The number of construction firms taking on apprentices has surged as a new study finds that 75% of parents would back apprenticeships in the industry for young people.
A survey of 1,500 construction employers revealed the percentage of firms taking on apprentices is up 30%, with 26% of firms taking on apprentices in 2014 compared with 20% in 2013. In addition, 75% reported being either satisfied or very satisfied with their apprentices, demonstrating the important contribution young people are making to the industry.
This is likely to increase the number of new apprenticeships becoming available over 2015, with 25% of companies claiming they are likely to take on more apprentices this year.
However, a separate report by think-tank Demos suggests that while many parents support apprenticeships, only 32% think it is the best choice for their own child, while 52% believe university is a better route.
The hunt for skilled workers to join the construction industry has grown more important over recent months, with skills shortages causing growing concern for employers, 40% of whom have identified it as a key challenge to their business.
Just under a quarter (23%) of these employers say they are having to turn work down, with one in five (20%) seeing projects over-run because of skills shortages.
The Demos report suggests that improving the lack of information provided to those in school is a key factor in increasing the number of those looking to join construction. It recommends that one member of every school governing body should be responsible for championing information, careers advice and guidance in schools.
It also suggests that all students aged 14-16 be offered the chance to take a vocational subject alongside academic study. This would not be compulsory but the option would be available to all.
Additionally, the report calls for better coordination of industry efforts to promote construction careers to schools, parents and young people.
Ian Wybron, researcher at Demos, said:
“All the major political parties agree we need to do more to promote high-quality apprenticeships. So it’s disheartening to see that so few parents and students are given the information they need to make an informed choice about them.
“Schools, businesses and policymakers should work together to promote apprenticeships as a first-rate option to be considered by all young people.”
Steve Radley, director of policy at the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) – which supported the Demos study – said:
“Schools and parents need a better understanding of what apprenticeships offer. As well as leading to rewarding careers, construction apprenticeships can also be the pathway to a university degree but are too often seen as a second best alternative to it.
“This report offers a fresh look at how to best promote apprenticeships to young people. Now we must help industry, schools and parents to make it happen.”
To view the Demos report, click here