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Construction sector's 'pathetically dismal’ apprenticeship numbers

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Construction sector's 'pathetically dismal’ apprenticeship numbers

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Development

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A group of parliamentarians is urging bosses to tackle a growing training and apprenticeship crisis in the construction sector.

In a report - 'No More Lost Generations: Creating Construction Jobs for Young People' - the group’s joint-chairman, Nick Raynsford MP, said: “Construction apprenticeships have plummeted in the past few years. For 2013 the number completing their construction apprenticeship in England fell to 7,280, just half the figure for 2008/09. They are pathetically dismal figures.”

Lord Richard Best, fellow joint-chairman, said: “A concerted effort is needed, led by the major firms and by those who procure construction contracts, to ensure young people brought up in the UK can take advantage of the growing number of jobs in construction.

“Without sufficient skilled home grown staff, employers are once again looking to import labour from other countries – particularly from Eastern Europe. This is not in the longer term interests of either the industry or the country.”

The report follows an parliamentary inquiry that found the fall in apprenticeship training comes at a time when the £100 billion+ construction industry is forecast to need 182,000 more workers in the next five years.

Nick Raynsford said: “There are nearly one million young people not in education, employment and training. We cannot tolerate this continuing mass unemployment when there is such scope for increasing training, apprenticeships and employment in our construction industry.

“Our inquiry set out to identify and examine the barriers standing in the way of the common-sense outcome we want to see – namely, a step change in both the quantity and quality of training and a consequent expansion in employment opportunities for young people seeking work in one of our country’s largest and most important industries.”

Acknowledging that there is no one single solution and actions will be needed to overturn current attitudes across a number of fronts, the report recommends:

  • That the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, with backing from the Construction Leadership Council, convene a summit with contractors, specialist contractors, housebuilders, local authorities and social landlords to get momentum behind construction jobs for young people. 
  • That the CITB spearheads a new apprenticeship strategy to ensure that training programmes are better linked to the nature of the jobs and reduce the drop-out rate from apprenticeships and other training courses. 
  • That public bodies and social landlords use the levers available through public sector procurement and the planning system to require realistic and effective training and employment commitments from employers. This will require committed support from government, social landlords and local authorities.
  • That the sector improves an understanding in schools of the exciting and varied opportunities for those who want a career in construction and make it easier for young people to find an appropriate route into the industry, whether through apprenticeships or degree-level qualifications, through the creation of a new careers portal.

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