The CCATF, which aims to increase opportunities for young people interested in working in construction, is instead urging employers of all sizes to bite the bullet and take on apprentices as the new college year approaches.
Their concerns were highlighted by figures in a recent report by CITB-Construction Skills, which points to the fact that less and less young people are entering the industry. Survey results showed that the number of 16-19 year olds in the industry has fallen by 52% since 2008. Compounding the problem, 20% of the existing workforce is ten years or less off retirement.
Val Lowman, Managing Director of BeOnsite, a not-for-profit organisation set up by construction giant Lend Lease to address employment shortages in the sector, put a positive spin on the financial cost of taking on apprentices. 'Although many firms are having to cope with smaller workloads because of the recession, they are more affordable than you might think and can help businesses maintain a competitive advantage,' she said.
But Heather Green, director of Apprenticeships at Manchester's Skills Solutions, a vocational training provider, thinks that apprenticeships could inadvertently be boosted by future tuition fee hikes. 'Apprenticeships will be high on the agenda as a viable alternative career path, creating a pool of talented young individuals from which the construction industry will absolutely benefit,' she said. She added that this would be helped by 'the extra £222M the government has allocated to fund vocational training.'
This figure to fund training was announced by Vince Cable, Business Secretary, earlier this year.