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Construction Industry urged to stop turning away tomorrow’s skilled craftspeople

25 May 2007

In 2006 the construction industry in England missed out on at least 12,000 recruits due to the shortage of vacancies offered by employers, according to figures released today by ConstructionSkills.

ConstructionSkills is now calling on the industry to make sure that 2007 is the best year yet for employers offering apprenticeship placements. So far this year over 25,000 young people in England have applied to ConstructionSkills hoping to gain a start in the industry. Already nearly 6,000 candidates have passed the organisation’s selection test for all apprenticeship applicants which ensures they meet appropriate standards –and now it’s down to industry to see that these willing and able candidates get the start they crave.

The drive to recruit more employers follows the Government’s announcement earlier this year that by 2013 they want more young people continuing in post-16 training and education. In addition, next month, the Government is expected to back Lord Leitch’s recommendations for improving UK skills, including a target of 500,000 people on apprenticeships across all sectors by 2020.There are currently only 250,000 apprentices working in all sectors.

ConstructionSkills is calling on employers of all sizes to recognise construction apprentices as a vital resource, and to commit to helping young people enter the industry. In order to support this ConstructionSkills has introduced Programme Led Apprenticeships (PLAs), a new complementary route to Traditional Apprenticeships. PLAs will allow young people to complete a full-time construction based college based course before completing the practical aspects required to attain NVQ Level 2 through a continuous placement of up to 12 months with an employer, a much shorter time commitment for businesses than Traditional Apprentices.

Director of ConstructionSkills Apprenticeship Max Hamps said:

“Apprentices are essential to the construction industry and they can be an invaluable asset to any company. There are hundreds of quality young people on ConstructionSkills Apprenticeships’ books who have already passed selection tests and are eager to work in the industry. Unfortunately many firms still think that taking on an apprentice is costly or time consuming, or that drop out rates are high, but at over 70% ConstructionSkills apprentices have some of the best completion rates in the industry and we are committed to finding the right apprentice to suit each construction business.“

“As well as placing the right apprentice, whether that be a Traditional Apprentice or a Programme Led Apprentice, and offering mentoring and support, we also offer a wide range of financial support and advice available for companies who take up the opportunity. We are calling on all construction businesses to consider taking on apprentices.”

Previous companies that have employed apprentices are backing up the call to action, as they have seen the benefits first hand.

For P Whelan Ltd, a North East based firm which builds and refurbishes commercial properties, apprentices have played a vital role in its 33 year history. Construction Director at P Whelan Ltd, Bob Warren, said:

“I started at P Whelan 27 years ago and I’ve seen apprentices grow from inexperienced trainees to highly skilled workers. They are the lifeblood of the company and have helped us to expand while maintaining the highest possible standards. Thorough training is very important to us. Skilled tradespeople are not always easy to come by, so we need to develop our own. We also want to help sustain the construction industry and add to the pool of qualified workers. Taking on apprentices has given us a stable, loyal and dedicated workforce and has got us where we are today.”

ConstructionSkills places approximately 9,500 apprentices per year through its Apprenticeship Division – all of whom have been pre-screened to establish that they are of a good standard. To help the employer and the apprentice through the apprenticeship, ConstructionSkills offers ongoing mentoring and support from an Apprenticeship Officer as well as ConstructionSkills Grant of up to £8,000 over three years for traditional apprenticeships, to support training.

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