One thing about the skills shortage that we can all agree with

One thing about the skills shortage that we can all agree with

28th July 2023 | Fiona Gamwell

Fiona runs the Hudson Apprenticeship Sponsorship Scheme which has helped more than 250 small and micro employers take on trade apprentices, and as an Apprenticeship Ambassador she is on hand to help young job seekers and Hudson clients navigate the overly complicated world of training and funding.

The Cross-industry Construction Apprenticeship Task Force (CCATF) is a group that brings stakeholders together so they can share knowledge and work together to bring more people into construction and provide them with the skills, training and opportunities they need.

This year’s annual CCATF event was held in Sheffield on the same industrial park that is home to McLaren Automotive and Rolls-Royce, and was attended by representatives from the Department for Education, CITB, Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, the Construction Leadership Council, CSCS, training providers and some large employers.

All agreed that as an industry we need to work to attract good people into the industry, and sitting in the shadow of Rolls-Royce and McLaren, it was acknowledged there is stiff competition for the brightest and best. However, you could then take your pick about whose job it is to do that, what needs to be done, and where efforts should be focused.

According to who was speaking, the shortage of trade skills is caused by:

  • The failure to attract enough talent
  • The provision and quality of education
  • Poor completion rates for construction training courses
  • A lack of opportunity for college leavers
  • No link between education and employment
  • The lack of support for small and medium-sized enterprises
  • The structure of the industry, which leads to most of the trade employment sitting with SMEs

Interestingly, the actual construction employers in the room said when they advertised trainee positions they were inundated with applications, and they needed good college provision and courses to support current skills requirements.

The representative from the Construction Leadership Council, a builders merchant, argued the focus for policy makers and the education department should be on future skills such as off-site construction and net zero. And therein lies the problem: those with the loudest voices do not really represent the industry, especially when you consider that 79 per cent of construction business have only two to nine employees.

Hudson Contract will continue to turn up at these events to bang the drum for simple support schemes for small businesses to take on new recruits and pass on their skills to the next generation of tradespeople. After all, small businesses created two thirds of the 21,000 new construction apprenticeships in 2020-21. We will carry on operating our award-winning sponsorship scheme for apprentices (225 and counting) and maximising the use of the Apprentice Levy. And we will always be on hand to help you navigate the various government programmes to get the funding and support you need.

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