The construction industry is experiencing a skills shortage and unsurprisingly industry leaders are concerned. The problem isn’t new but it has been exacerbated in recent years by a number of factors. Primarily Brexit and an ageing workforce in the industry. A large proportion of British born construction workers are nearing retirement age (three in 10 British-born construction workers are over 50).
One approach to addressing this shortage is to encourage more people to consider the benefits of an apprenticeship as a route to a long-term career and to encourage employers to plan ahead and recruit apprentices sooner rather than later, so they have skilled trained employees in place when they need them.
The Apprenticeship Levy, which was introduced in April 2017, has gone some way to raise awareness and encourage employers to consider offering apprenticeships. Although apprentice numbers jumped following the introduction of the levy, they did in fact drop by a quarter this year which is frustrating.
The levy aimed to create 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 but it looks unlikely that this target will be hit.
It is my belief that more needs to be done to raise awareness of the benefits of apprenticeships and to communicate this to employers and young people.
As someone who started out as a labourer in the scaffolding sector and has worked my way up, I see examples every single day of people who have progressed in their careers following an apprenticeship. Apprentices contribute massively to the construction sector and yet this contribution is rarely recognised.
Apprenticeships have always offered a great career path but now more than ever it offers an attractive proposition for young people considering their career options. No university fees, real life work experience, training which leads to recognised qualifications and pay from day one.
If you are an employer in the construction or scaffolding sector and aren’t currently offering apprenticeships then now is the time to reconsider. The benefits are vast and it is one clear step that you can take to begin to futureproof your workforce.