An enthusiastic response has followed the government’s revision of apprenticeships, with the Federation of Master Builders predicting the beginning of the “age of the apprentice”.
This has resulted from the announcement that the term ‘apprenticeship’ will be legally protected from misuse.
FMB chief executive Brian Berry said: “Apprenticeships simply don’t have the status they deserve. The government’s latest apprenticeship reforms are a positive step – in particular, giving legal protection to the term ‘apprenticeship’ should help tackle its blatant misuse by some organisations in some sectors.
“High-quality apprenticeships should be viewed by society just as favourably as university degrees and protecting the term from misuse will help ensure this is the case.”
He said the government aim of delivering three million apprenticeships to be “suitably ambitious”, but that reforms would be needed.
“As construction accounts for around 7% of GDP, it means our sector should be responsible for around 210,000 of these apprenticeships, which equates to 42,000 a year over the next parliament,” Mr Berry said.
“Given that the industry only achieved 16,000 in 2013/2014, there is a lot of work to be done.”
Mr Berry agreed with the government statement that it must “practice what it preaches” and drive apprenticeships through public-sector contracts.
“As almost 40% of total construction output is public sector, this is absolutely key. Firms should never be awarded public-sector work by central or local government unless they have committed to training an appropriate proportion of apprentices,” he said.
“Where contracts are not long enough to sustain an entire apprenticeship, shared apprenticeship schemes should be used. In the past, there has been evidence to suggest that pledges by firms to train apprentices have not transpired.
“Government needs to get better at policing its contractual stipulations if we are to really crank up the level of apprenticeships via the public sector.”