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BESA calls for further industry support to counter apprenticeship shortfall

Calls from building services organisation come on the back of in-house research that found more than 600 capable apprentices are without placements despite their attempts to find positions

More than 600 potential apprentices are without work despite efforts to seek out roles in a range of building services role such as pipework and ductwork installation, service and maintenance engineering, and ventilation hygiene, new research from BESA has found.

The organisation says that its research highlights concerns about a recruitment shortfall for specialised building services functions such as for design and project managers, as opposed to domestic plumbers or electricians. Limited industry awareness on initiatives such as the government’s Apprenticeship Levy was seen as one issue limiting the number of placements available for trainees to enter into the industry.

Tony Howard, director of BESA’s training division, argues that the organisation had filled hundreds of vacancies during 2018, yet research conducted last month found an “ever increasing number of good quality candidates” looking for apprenticeships.

BESA says it is calling on the industry to help support the next generation of buildings services engineers and has highlighted the importance of opportunities being created to bring in trainees for the mutual benefit for employees and employers.

The organisation argues that employers across the sector are still struggling with the government’s Apprenticeship Levy and its implications for the funding of new trainees, citing feedback it has received from industry.

The organisation adds, “BESA Training can work with you to ensure you get the funding you are entitled to. If you don’t use it, you will lose it, it’s as simple as that. Larger employers can now transfer levy funds to smaller businesses within the sector, which again BESA Training can help with.”

Mr Howard says there remains an industry trend among employers for poaching employees from other companies when there were a number of individuals looking for roles either as an apprenticeship or a full-time role.

He adds, “Frankly there is just no need for this when the research shows there are hundreds of willing people out there who would snap their hand off for the opportunity. Why diminish our talent pool?”

“We should be encouraging more people and skills into our sector, as we do great things that a lot of people are unaware of and take for granted”.

Levy effectiveness

The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced by the government last year with the aim of funding three million new roles by 2020.

Despite organisations such as the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) calling for the levy programme to be scrapped entirely, BESA continues to back the programme as being on the “right track”. However, the organisation earlier this year claimed that recent figures on apprenticeship numbers were disappointing and reflected a need to amend approaches currently being used via the levy to upskill individuals working in specialist industries such as heating and cooling.

BESA president Tim Hopkinson said at the time, “It is not just the levy itself that is at fault. Employers are finding the changes challenging and too many training providers still deliver courses that are simply not relevant to the modern workplace.”

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