Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, was one of the speakers at the annual conference of the Cross-industry Construction Apprenticeship Task Force, this month.
As the name suggests, CCATF aims to increase employer engagement in apprenticeship training – a cause that has been dear to our hearts at Hudson Contract for many years – so we were delighted to take part in an event that looked closely at the barriers that discourage construction companies from giving youngsters a start in the industry.
Two overriding themes came out of the day:
We know that’s not true, but as a brand, construction needs to get away from its image of being a low grade career in a dirty, unsafe working environment, and lacking in opportunities.
The reality is that today’s sites are clean and efficient, with vastly improved safety standards. Career paths embrace everything from architect and bricklayer to carpenter or civil engineers. And those of us in construction can make a real difference to their community and to the economy of the country. You only have to look at Hudson Contract’s pay stats to know that skilled tradespeople who decide to go freelance can easily earn over £1,000 a week. So what’s not to like?
Brand Construction needs to promote itself! We need to show the huge benefits of the industry, and shout much more loudly about the huge opportunities that someone entering the industry can have.
There was a general worry that potential employers have been deterred from taking on apprentices due to the increasing complexity of training and accessing funding.
Some of the larger companies at the conference explained how they have teams of people looking at the training schemes, sources of funding and how to claim the money, and dealing with the oceans of paperwork that needs to be done to take on an apprentice.
But it’s clear that small and medium-sized firms, traditionally the backbone of taking and training construction apprentices, have neither the time nor the resources to do this. And that’s even before you add the complications of keeping up-to-speed with the ever-changing funding rules.
We’d would love to hear your views on taking on apprentices and any difficulties you face, so we can feedback to CCATF . . . together, we might be able to make a difference!
Please drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, and by way of an aside, the Education and Skills Funding Agency is asking small businesses that don’t pay the Apprenticeship Levy to help develop the Apprenticeship Service. For further details click here.