Public bodies 'need to do more' for apprenticeships

Public bodies should make more use of the procurement and planning system to ensure employers provide effective employment training to stave off apprenticeship take-ups that are currently “pathetically dismal”, a group of parliamentarians is suggesting.

In a report produced in collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and the CITB, the group also calls on the CITB to organise a high level summit on youth opportunities. They say a similar summit on health and safety in 2001 really raised the profile of that issue, and “huge progress” has been made since then.

In the report, entitled No More Lost Generations: Creating Construction Jobs for Young People, they also want the CITB to spearhead an apprenticeship strategy to reduce the apprenticeship drop-out rate by ensuring that programmes are better linked to the nature of jobs.

And they see the sector in general needs to improve schools’ understanding of the “exciting” opportunities that exist in construction.
The group’s co-chairman, former Labour housing minister Nick Raynsford MP, said urgent action was needed because apprenticeship levels have “plummeted” in recent years.

He said: “For 2013 the number completing their construction apprenticeship in England fell to 7,280, just half the figure for 2008/09. They are pathetically dismal figures.”

Co-chairman Lord Richard Best said a co-ordinated effort was needed to ensure young people brought up in the UK take advantages of the opportunities that are there.

“Without sufficient skilled home grown staff, employers are once again looking to import labour from other countries – particularly from Eastern Europe. This is not in the longer term interests of either the industry or the country,” he said.

Construction union UCATT have slammed the construction industry for failing to train apprentices.

Steve Murphy, general secretary of UCATT, said: “These figures are pitiful. They demonstrate the complete failure of construction employers to train the apprentices the industry desperately needs.”

The report proposes that the Government holds a summit on training similar to the 2001 summit on construction safety.

Murphy, added; “A summit of the key players in the industry is a first step. However to tackle the chronic failure to train apprentices the Government must act.

“We need strict public procurement rules in place throughout the public sector. Companies bidding for public work must employ apprentices. Companies that don’t employ apprentices should be barred from bidding.”

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