Training Gains

The latest CITB construction industry forecast predicts 2.9 percent annual growth and the creation of more than 200,000 new jobs over the next five years. With the UK experiencing a ‘big construction comeback,’ it’s not surprising that attracting returners and new recruits into the workforce has become a priority for employers and the government alike.

400,000 skilled workers left the construction industry during the downturn. Although some will have retired or relocated permanently, we estimate that up to 100,000 people could be persuaded to return. But it will not be easy. Although our research indicates that the sector is on the path to long-term growth, it will take considerable effort to demonstrate the sector’s good prospects for long-term, successful careers.

As a result, in the run-up to the General Election, we are urging all political parties to pledge their support for completing the National Infrastructure Plan. If the pipeline of new projects is guaranteed, employers will have the confidence to invest in training while also encouraging skilled construction workers to return.

However, no matter how successful a re-recruitment programme is, it will only provide a temporary solution. Longer term, we must create a consistent pipeline of new talent and ensure that these individuals are retained throughout their careers. And providing quality apprenticeships for quality apprentices is a critical component of that.

Recognizing this, the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons recently published a report on 16-18 education that endorsed the Government’s commitment to longer and higher-quality apprenticeships. The Committee also recommended targeted assistance to assist smaller businesses in hiring apprentices.

The government, for its part, has stated its intention to give construction employers a greater say in the funding and shaping of apprenticeships. This commitment is greatly appreciated. Including employers in the decision-making process should improve the overall design, quality, and relevance of construction apprenticeships.
The challenge now is to ensure that construction firms can participate in the manner that best suits them. In a sector dominated by SMEs, it can be difficult to engage meaningfully because many businesses lack the staff and time to become deeply involved. Instead, they might prefer some hands-on assistance with hiring an apprentice.

The solution proposed by the CITB to the government is to allow employers to choose a managed service facilitated by a third party. Using this approach, CITB and other training providers can provide administrative assistance to SMEs. Furthermore, the CITB can provide employers with grants of up to £10,250 to hire an apprentice.

Things are improving, but there is still a long way to go before construction apprenticeships, and those in other industries, become a viable option for all young people.

As a result, the CITB has collaborated with Demos, one of the UK’s leading think tanks, to establish an independent Commission on Apprenticeships. The Commission, co-chaired by Conservative MP Robert Halfon and Labour Peer Lord Glasman, is tasked with developing a strategy to increase the quality and quantity of apprenticeships, particularly in the construction industry.

The group, which was launched last autumn at the Government’s Construction Summit, brings together policy experts, training providers, and business leaders to investigate:

  • How to increase the appetite for apprenticeships among young people and employers; and • How to best ensure world-class standards for British apprenticeships.
  • The Commission’s final report will be released at the CITB’s inaugural Training Summit, which will be held on March 10th in London in collaboration with the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills and the Construction Leadership Council.
  • The summit will bring together industry leaders to discuss how to expand training opportunities for young people and develop the skilled workforce that local economies require.

In addition to the release of the Apprenticeship Commission report, the summit will provide delegates with the opportunity to hear from key government figures and share experiences and practical tips with other construction businesses facing similar challenges. The day’s key speeches will be supplemented by practical workshop forums and business-focused seminars, as well as opportunities to express opinions and ask questions of the Minister and industry leaders.

Last Updated on December 28, 2021


Author: Indra Gupta

Indra is an in-house writer with a love of Newcastle United and all things sustainable.

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