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Industry urged to act now to keep sector competitive

20 July 2007

With thousands of would-be apprentices still struggling to find employers, ConstructionSkills is urging the construction industry to take on apprentices or risk falling further behind competitor countries such as France and Germany.

Currently 28% of school leavers in England and Wales enrol on apprenticeships compared with roughly two thirds in Germany and Austria.

The Government announced earlier this year that by 2013 they want more young people continuing in post-16 training and education. In addition, 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 will, from the 1st August, provide employers with an increased level of financial support, in excess of £9,400 in CITB-ConstructionSkills Grant, to help them take on an apprentice and meet these new targets.

In order to increase the number of apprenticeships all industries, including construction, are going to have to recruit more employers to take on young people.

There are still 3,700 young people across England who have passed the organisation’s selection test, which ensures they have an aptitude for the industry, and are still struggling to find employers to take them on. North East, Yorkshire & Humber, Midlands and the South West are the worst affected regions as they all have more than over 500 young people looking for apprenticeships.

Director of ConstructionSkills Apprenticeships, Max Hamps, said:

“Apprentices are not only essential to the future of the construction industry but to the future of the UK economy. They can also be an invaluable asset to any company. By offering a flexible resource that can help your business grow, an apprentice could be the best investment your business ever makes.

“ConstructionSkills helps take the hassle out of recruiting an apprentice, offering ongoing advisory and significant financial support to your business. Our commitment is to finding the right apprentice to suit each construction business and with a 70% completion rate, this is borne out by our apprentices, and through the many success stories we hear every day.”

ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council working to deliver a safe, professional and fully qualified construction workforce, is continuing its drive to bring more high calibre young people into the industry. ConstructionSkills is now calling on companies of all sizes to recognise construction apprentices as a vital resource, and to commit to helping young people enter the industry. Companies that already employ apprentices are backing up the call to action, as they have seen the benefits first hand.

Margaret Watson, company secretary for Austin Watson, a North West firm that specialises in the construction of schools and colleges in the local area, said:

"Apprentices have always played an important role in the company, as we like to train our own staff and build the business from the bottom up. Taking on new entrants to the industry and overseeing their development is important to us as it means we are creating skilled workers who will learn to work to the high standards we demand. Investing in young people's futures also encourages them to stay loyal to the company - in fact many of our first apprentices are still with us today.”

ConstructionSkills places approximately 9,500 traditional 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 CITB-ConstructionSkills Grant of up to £9,400 over three years.

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