Monday 6th February 2012 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Training as an apprentice is the best way to learn a trade, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). A survey carried out by the FMB of its members in the run up to National Apprenticeship Week 2012, which takes place between 6th and 10th February, found the apprenticeship tradition was alive and strong among small construction firms.
Providing young people with employment opportunities and making sure a business has people with the right skills were also listed as the top reasons for employing an apprentice by FMB members. However, when asked about the biggest barriers to hiring an apprentice, FMB members ranked ‘a lack of confidence in the economy and future workloads’ higher than anything else.
Brian Berry, FMB Director of External Affairs, said:
"National Apprenticeship Week is a fantastic way to promote the benefits of apprenticeships to employers and future apprentices. The apprenticeship challenge in the construction sector is about growing the supply of skilled and qualified workers in line with the industry's needs. We are very pleased the Government has decided to make apprenticeships a spending priority, but it is employers who are at the heart of the apprenticeship system and it is extremely difficult to anticipate much growth in the number of construction apprenticeships without growth in the industry.”
“The Government’s proposal for an incentive payment for small employers is welcome but the Government is risking the success of this policy by excluding small businesses with previous experience of training apprentices. These businesses are no less discouraged by the cost of hiring an apprentice, especially at the current time when most small building firms are struggling to maintain workloads. What the Government should be doing is introducing more flexibility into the ‘Small Employer Incentive’ eligibility criteria so that small businesses with a history of employing apprentices are not excluded to the detriment of the young people the Government says it wants to help.”
“The Government needs to allow a flexible approach to funding so that the apprenticeship programme really can meet the needs of employers. This means ensuring that reduced levels of funding for 19+ apprenticeships do not hamper progression. 16-18 year old apprenticeship starts should be fully funded through to the ‘advanced’ level 3, regardless of the apprentice’s age upon conversion from level 2 to level 3. If an employer is asked to contribute to the ‘off-the-job’ training costs as well as the employment and supervisory costs, this makes an advanced apprenticeship much less attractive."