How apprenticeships are feeding the construction industry

Earlier in the year, our Industrial Programme Manager, Christian Snaith, offered his views to Professional Housebuilder and Property Developer (PH&PD) magazine on how apprenticeships and the encouragement of new talent into the Construction sector have never been so important to continue to feed the industry and to provide a skilled future workforce. PH&PD is an industry publication for large, national organisations, regional developers and SME local housebuilders, and has a circulation of approximately 15,000. Read Christian’s comments below:

“There has been wide coverage that there is a growing skills shortage within the construction sector, with a decline in new entrants and an increasing number of industry workers over the age of 55. However, development is at a high – construction already accounts for 2.6 million jobs in the UK with an expected growth of almost 3% in the next five years. In our local region, Plymouth alone is predicted to need 10,000 additional construction jobs by 2020 thanks to large developments throughout the city and surrounding areas*. This includes the construction of a new town, Sherford, which will see 5,500 new homes being built.

“Construction apprenticeships provide a viable alternative to traditional study methods, offering a wide variety of placements across all key sector areas from carpentry and bricklaying to plastering. Not only do apprenticeships deliver all the mandatory qualifications, but they also expose learners to the industry early, getting them out on the job to pick up essential hands on skills and working practices. The logistics of apprenticeships vary, however all learners spend a minimum of 20% of the time participating in off-the-job training to study the essential skills, including all aspects of housebuilding such as footings, roofing and drainage. The rest is spent out with the employer, working on real jobs in real working conditions. To benefit the employer, the Government has just announced a change to apprenticeship funding, aiming to encourage small and medium sized businesses to invest in apprenticeships. Employer contribution towards apprenticeships has dropped from 10% to 5% – now making it even more affordable to train apprentices across a wider age range in the sector.

“There has also recently been significant changes to training in the sector, moving from Apprenticeship Frameworks to Apprenticeship Standards. Frameworks had previously been designed around a range of units, with a test or a SPA (Synoptical Practical Assessment) at the end of each unit, creating exam ready learners. However, the new Standards are occupation focused, not qualification led, emphasising core behaviours that are expected to be displayed by a skilled workforce. The Standards have been carefully developed by a select group of employers for employers to bridge the gap and target the skills shortages that the construction and housebuilding industries are currently facing. The employer decides when the learner is ready for the end point assessment – an independent assessment at the end of the apprenticeship – testing all key attributes and competencies needed for the industry.

“Apprenticeships offer a credible and thorough training process to help create a skilled workforce for the future. Through providing on-the-job training, apprenticeships are able to directly feed projects through supplying extra man power, while at the same time allowing learners to develop essential industry skills that are quickly put into practice. Through the employer contribution reduction, it is now also more affordable to invest in apprenticeships, creating more opportunities for apprenticeship vacancies and to grow the workforce”.

*Figures from Devon and Cornwall Training Provider Network http://trainingprovider.com/construction-planning-the-built-environment/

I always struggled in school as I wasn’t very academic, so knew learning on the job would be a better option for me. I would find it difficult to get up for 9am but now I wake up and look forward to my day. I wanted to try a hair apprenticeship as I’ve always been interested in hairdressing, and by the end of the first week, I already loved it!

Jaimee Benson, Level 2 Hairdressing

I have developed a range of new skills through work including the technical, industry skills required for the job, to personal development such as ensuring I am always on time. The biggest change since leaving school is adjusting to the independence you gain from earning a salary. My advice to anyone thinking of doing an apprenticeship would be find what you like doing, and go for it!

Will Birch, Level 2 Bricklaying

Since starting the apprenticeship, I’ve become far more confident. In a classroom, you only interact with your classmates, but through working you develop your people skills as you interact with customers on a daily basis. At school, you are closely monitored and parented, however I am now more independent and feel grown up

Sam Collard, Level 2 Light Vehicle and Maintenance Repair

The most important thing I’ve learnt since leaving school is that there are other routes to success than just academia. I failed my GCSEs, as I never suited the school environment. Now though, I’m really enjoying my apprenticeship as I’ve discovered I learn more through hands-on practice.

Ben Freeman, Level 2 Carpentry

I would just like to thank you and your team for all the amazing work they do, you have provided me with the most invaluable experience which has helped to pave the way of my future. The work you do for young people is incredible!

Luke Kowalski, Teaching Assistant and former apprentice at Sir Robert Gefferys School