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Apprenticeship plea to contractors

A cross-industry task force is urging contractors to take on more apprentices after ‘alarming’ research showed a huge drop in young people working in the construction industry.

The Cross-Industry Construction Apprenticeship Task Force, established to increase the number of construction apprenticeships available to help avoid future skills shortages, is warning that firms cannot afford to ignore the need to train people who are enthusiastic about a career in construction, despite the difficult economic situation.

A recent survey by CITB-ConstructionSkills showed the number of 16-19 years olds in the industry has fallen by 52 per cent since 2008, and only 12 per cent of the sector’s workforce is aged 24 and under.

This is combined with a large increase in the percentage of older workers in the industry with nearly 20 per cent only ten years or less off retirement.

CCATF chairman Geoff Lister said: “With the new college terms just around the corner, now is a perfect time for businesses to take action. Apprenticeships lead to a nationally recognised qualification and in the construction industry well-qualified employees can help set great businesses apart from the rest.

“Furthermore, apprentices learn whilst in employment, which means businesses can teach their apprentices exactly what they need to know to do the best possible job. This goes to show hiring an apprentice has numerous benefits, even for small businesses.”

Bam Nuttall training manager Kevin Bennett said: “Apprentices demonstrate commitment and loyalty and their keenness to learn and improve is vital to supporting the Sustainability of our business.

“At BAM Nuttall we believe that our people are our key asset and we believe in investing in their development.  Our Apprenticeship Programmes clearly demonstrate our culture of training and development and growing our own talent.

“Each year we are expanding and developing the programmes we offer due to the direct business benefits we see – through the delivery of bespoke qualifications linked directly to our business needs we are able to increase the diversity of our talent pool and retain highly skilled individuals with a great work ethic.”

BeOnsite managing director Val Lowman said: “Apprentices very often work their way up the ranks to become very valuable employees for any company. Although many firms are having to cope with smaller workloads because of the recession, apprentices are often more affordable than you might think and can help businesses maintain a competitive advantage.

“BeOnsite was established by leading property company Lend Lease to recruit enthusiastic people into the industry and address the very real risk of skills shortages.”

Anyone seeking further information about hiring an apprentice should go directly to the National Apprenticeship Service website, or call 08000 150 600.

Support services provider Lakehouse, in partnership with training provider Building Lives, has launched a campaign to spearhead a commitment from the construction industry to provide training and employment to people from deprived and vulnerable communities.

They are calling on industry partners – including customers, contractors, and supply chain partners, to join them in supporting our communities through training and apprenticeship opportunities.

Lakehouse has projects in some of the communities directly affected by last week’s riots, including Camden, Woolwich and Hackney, and is working to support communities where it operates through work experience placements, apprenticeships and staff volunteering.

In Hackney, Lakehouse has recently pledged 20 work experience placements, 50 apprenticeship placements and 30 days of staff time to volunteering in the London Borough.

Chief executive Steve Rawlings said that against a backdrop of unemployment, and an economy in recession, it’s time for businesses around the UK to engage with, and to build community cohesion and a thriving, productive economy.

He added: “The construction industry can use its expertise to help reconstruct these communities; but it also has a responsibility to help alleviate the issues of deprivation and unemployment that contribute to the problem. The industry is uniquely placed to provide jobs and training opportunities for all in society.”