ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council for the construction industry, is calling for more UK contractors to help stimulate a ‘spirit of apprenticeships’ throughout the sector’s supply chain. As part of its annual employer recruitment drive to encourage more businesses to invest in young people, ConstructionSkills is asking how the biggest contractors can use their considerable influence to demonstrate the value apprentices bring to businesses of all sizes.
New ConstructionSkills research has revealed that almost a third of companies have slashed their apprenticeship recruitment plans this year because of the recession. Following this news, ConstructionSkills is looking to top contractors to help foster a sector-wide sentiment that apprentices are good for business.
ConstructionSkills is looking to more large UK contractors to replicate this approach and open up the dialogue with their supply chains, instilling the ‘spirit of apprenticeships’ at the core of industry. With this in mind, Stephen Ratcliffe, Director of the UK Contractors Group (UKCG) reinforces how important large companies’ influence is on the supply chain: “It is extremely important that we work together to deliver the next generations of apprenticeships, and this is why the UKCG has recently established an apprenticeship task force to look at ways its members could work collectively with their supply chains to promote new entrant training.”
Mike Bialyj, Director of Employer Services at ConstructionSkills commented: “We desperately need to provide more employers for the would-be apprentices looking to start a career in construction. It is certainly a case of supplying the demand at the moment.
“There is a real need for more employers to take an apprentice on, but many of the smaller companies out there don’t feel that they have the capacity or time to do so. What we need is for smaller companies to understand the process of taking on an apprentice, what the businesses benefits are and how they can access help and support, both from us, and from larger companies.”
The failure to invest in apprenticeships now will mean severe skills shortages in the future. Many large contractors already actively choose to invest in smaller firms that share their corporate values, working cultures and commitment to developing talent.
Carl Heslop, a special works manager and apprentice employer at national construction firm Morgan Ashurst, said: “Morgan Ashurst needs a robust supply chain and we’ve spent a lot of time developing ours to ensure that a wide range of different skills are covered by the firms we work with in order to produce the output we need. Apprentices are key to this and a very important part of our culture, so if companies want to work with us it’s essential for them to demonstrate that they share our values by taking on and developing apprentices.”
Mick Nelson, Works Manager at BAM Nuttall, said: “You’re not giving anything back by taking on an apprentice. You’re actually taking. Every company needs good people for it to prosper and you’re taking on a good young person, teaching them the skills that your company needs and the culture of the company. Unless you are investing in your future then it’s very hard to prosper.”
Carl Heslopconcluded: “Apprentices are not just for big companies. It’s almost more powerful for a smaller company to have apprentices because they’re so much more part of that business.”