Last updated: 11.05.13

Apprenticeships 'key' to boosting construction workforce

Apprenticeships are crucial to closing the skills gap within the construction industry, new research has suggested.

A report published by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has revealed that 90 per cent of professionals questioned in the sector stated vocational training is vital to plugging the shortages.

Of the respondents that said they have previously taken on apprentices, more than half (58 per cent) claimed the training had lasted at least two years and 72 per cent of young people were offered permanent employment after their placement had come to an end.

Michael Brown, deputy chief executive at the CIOB, noted it is encouraging that a large number of building firms are making the most of apprenticeships, especially at a time when many of them are suffering reduced margins and workloads.

He added: "Moreover, it is positive to see the construction industry delivering long-term apprenticeship training, with many being offered further opportunities to build upon these skills."

The document found that 44 per cent of organisations surveyed believe the construction sector is not equipped with the right skills to take forward the government's Green Deal, a scheme designed to make UK homes more energy-efficient through the installation of insulation. 

Meanwhile, two-thirds claimed the industry needs to improve its training practices in order to build a green-focused workforce and 41 per cent were adamant the number of jobs will decrease over the course of 2013-14.

Mr Brown continued: "With the government mandating Level 2 BIM as a minimum by 2016, companies risk being left behind unless they invest in training in order to join this movement."

It may be wise for construction businesses to consider rolling out online training, as this can be accessed in their employees' spare time and would not interfere with working hours. 

E-learning provider Virtual College has its own e-academy dedicated to the sector and the organisation offers study modules in trade skills, such as Working at Heights and the Award in Environmental Awareness, while it also boasts a number of electrical courses.