Scottish construction has received a boost from news that companies are feeling more confident about the state of the industry, as evidenced by the fact that the majority are planning to take on new interns in the year ahead.
According to the latest edition of the Scottish Construction Monitor, 69 per cent of surveyed firms are planning to recruit apprentices within the next 12 months, as their confidence levels continue to rise. This is a noticeable rise on the number of construction firms that said they have taken on an intern in the past year, a figure that stood at 60 per cent.
The index, conducted by the Scottish Building Federation, found rising confidence levels for the fourth consecutive quarter. Also, among the 58 firms that were surveyed, three in four expressed a belief that there is a need for more apprentices to help the industry continue to grow - in both the short and long terms.
However, the survey also revealed that one of the major issues facing retailers in Scottish construction is a perceived lack of suitable candidates for apprenticeships.
As a result, the federation's managing director Vaughan Hart said: "We need to see action at secondary and even primary school level to encourage more young people to think seriously about a career in construction and to make that a truly aspirational option for them.
"We need to get the message across that there are exciting and rewarding long-term career opportunities in the construction industry and an apprenticeship is one of the best ways of pursuing that goal."
For those firms taking on apprentices, it is vital to have a good training programme in place to ensure they reach their potential; this is the aim of Virtual College's Construction Services e-Academy (formerly Trades e-Academy), which has been running since 2010 and leverages the knowledge of industry experts to develop e-learning solutions designed for all needs: from bite-sized training courses on the fundamentals of construction to full qualifications - all at a reasonable cost to employers.