A report published by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) warns that construction firms are being put off from taking on new apprentices.
Research carried out by the FMB suggests that 94% of small building companies want to train up new apprentices but the report “Defusing the skills time bomb” shows that a third of small construction firms are being put off from taking on apprentices because of the bureaucracy involved.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The construction industry is in the midst of a skills crisis which can only be solved if more employers take on apprentices. The Government wants to deliver three million apprentices over the next five years and this new report sheds some light on how this can be achieved.”
The report asked a sample of FMB members to rate various possible barriers to training apprentices out of 10, with 1 being no barrier at all and 10 being a major barrier.
The results from those who have experience recruiting apprentices are as follows:
- Quality of candidates (6.8);
- Complexity and bureaucracy of the process (6.1);
- Concerns over the ability to retain apprentices once trained (6.1);
- Uncertainty over future workloads (6.0); and
- Cost of employing and training an apprentice (6.0).
- And from those that do not have experience recruiting apprentices:
1. Complexity and bureaucracy of the process (7.4);
2. Cost of employing and training an apprentice (7.3);
3. Uncertainty of future workloads (7.1);
4. Concerns over the ability to retain apprentices once trained (7.0); and
5. Quality of candidates (7.0).
These figures clearly show that one of the stark differences between those that have experience in recruiting apprentices and those that don’t is the perception of the costs involved.
In light of these revelations the FMB has therefore stressed the need to educate small construction firms on the financial support available to them for taking on apprentices.
Mr Berry continued: “There is strong evidence to show that small construction firms need better information and that if they were more aware of the support that’s available, a great number would train apprentices. Just under 80% of non-recruiters are not aware of one of the most important apprenticeship grants available to them and just over 75% say knowledge of financial support would make them more likely to take on apprentices.”
The most significant barrier to training apprentices that those with and without experience could agree on is the complexity and bureaucracy of the overall recruitment process, which is at the forefront of the FMB’s recommendations to the Government.
Mr Berry concluded: “Given that two-thirds of all construction apprentices are trained by SMEs, it is critical that the Government does everything in its power to remove any barriers that might be stopping these companies from training. Looking ahead, the Government’s new apprenticeship voucher could be a disaster for small firms unless it is properly road tested and made as simple and easy-to-use as possible.”
The full report with further findings from the research can be found here.