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Skills Minister David Lammy MP supports new industry Apprenticeship drive

Skills Minister David Lammy MP today backed a new Industry Task Force set up to double the number of successful construction apprenticeships in England over the next four years.

The Skills Minister attended the inaugural meeting of the Cross-Industry Task Force on Apprenticeship Numbers, an employer-led group formed to identify the perceived barriers to apprenticeship take-up and to tackle the current shortfall in employer vacancies.

Currently less than 10% of construction employers take on apprentices, at a time when the UK is facing a massive demand for skilled workers and needs to recruit an additional 87,600 workers each year for the next five years. In that time 7,500 major new projects (in excess of £1 million) with a total estimated value of nearly £250 billion are projected to start in addition to the ongoing repair and maintenance work and construction projects already in progress.

The Task Force will seek to raise awareness of the business benefits of taking on apprentices as well as the risk to industry of not investing in the workforce of the future.

The Task Force membership will consist of key figures from industry including employers, federation representation, Union officials, Government departments and the Learning and Skills Council. The Task Force will complement the Governments own cross-industry Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network and will be chaired and led by Geoff Lister, President of the Federation of Master Builders and member of the ConstructionSkills Board.

Geoff Lister, President of the Federation of Master Builders, said; “22% of FMB members train apprentices compared to less than 10 % across the construction sector, I’d like to dramatically increase both these figures. I look forward to working with industry employer’s and other colleagues from all sizes of companies and organisations to help provide an employment route for extra Apprentices to help solve the skill needs within the industry over the run up period to the 2012 Olympics. I realise it is a challenge but I am sure with the enthusiasm that I believe exists we can succeed.”

Skills Minister David Lammy said: “In order to deliver major projects such as the Thames Gateway development and the Olympics we need a vibrant and fully skilled construction workforce, and apprenticeships are central to ensuring this is achieved. That is why over £1billion in Government funding has been ring-fenced to increase overall places across all sectors from 250,000 today to more than 400,000 by 2020. I call on employers in the construction industry to work with us to ensure that an apprenticeship place is available for everyone who needs one."

Max Hamps, ConstuctionSkills Apprenticeships Director said; “The construction sector has long relied on apprentices as a means of training the next generation of workers and as such the sector already has well established apprenticeship pathways. However the number of young people seeking an apprenticeship is far greater than placements offered by employers. The huge shortage of employers to meet the increasing demand by young people is something that can only be addressed if we unite as an industry and commit to tackling it. “

Stephen Gardner, Director of Apprenticeships said "I am delighted that the sector is being proactive in helping us to increase the number of employers offering apprenticeships. We know that there are many more talented young people seeking an apprenticeship than there are places available and that less than 10% of employers currently take on apprentices. I look forward to working closely with the Task Force to dramatically increase this percentage and provide young people with the opportunities that they are seeking."

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