Launch of Apprenticeship Levy and focus on training will 'safeguard' construction, says developer Crest Nicholson

Housebuilder Crest Nicholson has welcomed today's launch of the Apprenticeship Levy and says it is confident that a greater emphasis on apprenticeships will help address the construction industry’s skills shortage and help "safeguard" the future of the sector.

With the Government committed to delivering three million apprenticeships and one million new homes by 2020, the levy is seen as the biggest shake-up of skills for a generation.

There was a record 900,000 apprentices in 2016 and the levy will ensure that employers across all sectors "focus on providing quality structured career development and clear career pathways for young adults seeking an apprenticeship," said Stephen Stone, Crest Nicholson's chief executive.

The levy requires all employers in the UK with an annual wage bill of more than £3 million to pay 0.5 per cent of it towards funding apprenticeships.

The money will be invested in training for apprentices and double the annual investment in apprenticeships in England to £2.5 billion by 2019 to 2020, compared with 2010 to 2011 levels.

The levy will encourage employers to invest in high-quality apprenticeships ensuring even more people have a chance to reach their full potential.

Smaller employers with an annual pay bill below £3 million will not be not required to pay the levy. The government will pay 90 per cent of the costs of training and assessing their apprentices.

Companies with fewer than 50 employees that take on apprentices aged between 16 and 18 will have 100 per cent of their training costs paid for.

Earlier this year, developer Crest Nicholson announced 35 new apprenticeships for 2017 - including its first-ever degree apprenticeship in quantity surveying - and working with the Homebuilding Skills Partnership, the House Builders Federation and the Construction Industry Training Board is helping more apprentices and graduates into the industry.

“Greater industry focus and campaigning must be placed on providing younger adults with the benefits that a career in new homebuilding can bring and understanding how our industry is competing with other industries to attract the attention of thousands of school, college and university students throughout the UK,” said Stone, adding: "It falls to housebuilders to ensure the future of the industry is safeguarded.”

Building an apprenticeship and skills nation is essential in ensuring the UK has the homegrown workforce it needs post-Brexit, says skills minister Robert Halfon.

"There has never been a more important time for Britain to invest in the skills of our people and businesses. To make Britain stronger and fairer, we need to make sure that everyone gets the chance to climb the ladder of opportunity to gain the education and skills they need to be successful in life.

"Our apprenticeship levy is a massive part of this. More than 90 per cent of apprentices go into work or further training, and the quality on-the-job training on offer will make sure we have the people with the skills, knowledge and technical excellence to drive our country forward."

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