The Conservative Party's pledge to offer employers a £2,000 bonus, on top of the money they already receive, for taking on and training apprentices is a welcome kick-start to provide more apprenticeship places in this country, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). The FMB warns that the UK construction industry is suffering from a skills shortage despite the recent economic downturn, largely due to a shortage in the number of apprenticeship places being offered by employers.
Brian Berry, Director of External Affairs at the FMB said:
"Quite simply the UK is failing to deliver enough labour as evidenced by the fact that the UK was 11th in the International Skills Competition at the World Skills Summit in 2007. Britain is failing on two fronts: first, failing to meet demand and secondly, failing to train enough people with the right skills to the right levels. However, the failure to address the skills shortage is as much about too few interested employers as it is about too few interested school leavers. For example, in 2007, 30,000 young people applied for an apprentice position but only 8,500 were accepted. This is within a sector in which there are approximately 185,000 construction companies within the UK but only 4 per cent of which employ an apprentice. Clearly, the construction sector needs to be better motivated to reverse this situation if Britain is to maintain its long term competiveness."
"It is therefore pleasing to see the Conservative Party is waking up to the skills shortage facing the industry. Their pledge to offer employers a £2,000 bonus for taking on and training apprentices is just the encouragement needed to start to redress the current desperate situation."
Geoff Lister, President of the FMB and Chairman of the Cross Industry Apprenticeships Task Force concluded:
"The construction industry currently requires 87,500 apprentices every year for the next five years just to supply the £250 billion of big projects in the pipeline, on-going jobs, and maintenance work. News that the Conservatives have a goal of training 100,000 apprentices in total is welcome news."
21 July 2008