Archive 2016 10

Skills and Training Skilling the workforce Apprenticeships have hit a record high as ‘earn and learn’ increases in popularity. Claire Cameron looks at modern day training schemes and how they can help resolve the skills shortage WITH an estimated 250,000 construction workers and 150,000 engineers needed to meet demand over the next four years, there has never been a more crucial time to start training the next generation is vital. The ongoing skills shortage and uncertainty over labour availability following Brexit has increased the need for firms to up their game when it comes to attracting and nurturing new talent. Recognising that apprentices are the key to the success of the future workforce, the UK government has pledged to invest £2.5 billion in apprenticeship training by 2020 and will also introduce a new apprenticeship levy next April. While Gary Lewis, the newlyelected president of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), is also making apprenticeships a priority after its State of Trade Survey revealed small building firms are struggling to hire tradespeople. There are already encouraging signs that more people are choosing careers in construction and engineering with data from the Skills Funding Agency showing engineering apprenticeship enrolments jumped to a record high of more than 74,000 in 2014-15 – up 14 per cent on the previous year. NG Bailey received its highestever National Apprenticeship Week response in March, with the ‘earn and learn’ route proving more popular than ever as an alternative to further academic study. www.builderandengineer.22 “Without my apprenticeship I wouldn’t have my qualifications or work experience, and might be like some of my friends who went to university and are now struggling to find suitable jobs. It’s the best way to kick start a career.” With 130 current apprentices and another 60 places available across 12 different schemes this year, the independent engineering consultancy spends around £3 million annually on employee development and has trained more than 5,500 apprentices since the 1960s. Frank Clayton, head of group learning and development, said: “Applicants are approaching construction firms, gaining experience or attending careers fairs. To see applicants pro-actively researching and understanding the benefits this path offers them is hugely encouraging.” And with the latest statistics showing construction is one of the top five apprenticeships chosen by young people, it is important that businesses within the sector continue to offer placements and ensure a pipeline of skilled individuals and tradespeople. One such business is Midlandsbased consulting development engineers, M-EC. Following a period of steady Jake Poulton growth and with a view to expanding, the company created its apprenticeship scheme in 2012, appointing its first trainee, Jake Poulton. Working with neighbouring Stephenson College in Coalville, M-EC enabled Poulton to begin a two-year programme and gain a Construction and the Built Environment Diploma Level 3. M-EC Apprentice Intake 2016

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