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Industry urged to encourage investment in apprenticeships

The current approach to apprenticeships must be reformed if the plumbing sector is to meet future demand, according to WaterSafe.

Recent research found that although employment levels are at an all-time high, particularly in construction, there are still 943,000 young people in the UK who are not in education, employment or training.

The consensus from trade associations was that the issue is one of a skills shortage, particularly when it comes to the trade sector.

Currently, one in 10 jobs in Britain is in construction, yet many are outsourced to subcontractors from overseas as the UK simply lacks people with the skills sets required to fulfil the burgeoning demand.

WaterSafe director Julie Spinks said: “It is a travesty to think that we have so much opportunity in the UK trade industry yet so many young people are still out of work.

“The issue is clearly one of a lack of investment in apprenticeships whereby, as a result of the tough recessional years, trade businesses simply haven’t had the money or resource to invest in training new starters.

“This is something that as an industry we must address rapidly, or face simply not having the resources to fulfil our construction goals.”

Tthe government recently announced its Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill, which sets out to create three million new apprenticeships by 2020 by providing young people with the support, skills and experience they need to fulfil their potential.

In addition, it launched a new Level 3 Apprenticeship standard for plumbing and domestic heating technicians in March to aid entrants looking to start in the industry.

“It is great to see the government pledge more commitment and funding to apprenticeships,” Ms Spinks added.

“After all, they are the lifeblood of any trade and vital to boosting productivity and enhancing our skills set as the sector continues to thrive. And, of course, we would urge any apprentices starting out in the plumbing sector to register with WaterSafe once they have their qualifications.”

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