This month sees us reach National Apprenticeship Week 2020. Here, Madeleine Halliwell, Learning and Development Manager at Prater explains why investing in apprentices can provide numerous, long term, and mutual benefits.
THE SKILLS SHORTAGE has long been a critical issue for the construction sector. With the average age of construction workers being 41, and the average retirement age being 61, it is estimated that around 500,000 workers will likely retire from the industry within the next 10 years. Added to this of course, is the UK’s departure from the EU, and the long term impact this might have on the movement of our workforce, and attracting and retaining construction professionals.
Addressing the employment and skills gap as well as maintaining and upskilling the current workforce is clearly important. Furthermore, with the construction industry increasing the uptake of digital design and offsite manufacturing, we also require people to fulfil job roles that perhaps had not previously existed.
Whilst there is no, one, single answer to the employment and skills problem, a wider uptake of apprenticeship programmes can play an essential role in a long term solution.
Earn while you learn
Apprenticeships provide a number of benefits for both the employer and apprentice. Providing practical and relevant training, apprenticeships are a viable alternative to academic education and an excellent way to embark on a new career or access a new industry and earn while you learn.
The apprentice is equipped with the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for them to be successful, which will ultimately benefit their employer and the sector.
The most recent available Apprenticeships Evaluations in 2017, found that 76% of employers in the construction industry were highly satisfied with the benefits the apprenticeships provided, and around two-thirds of employers reported that their apprentices continued to work full time in the organisation once the programme was completed. This is fantastic news for employee retention and creating a diverse talent pipeline.
Ideally, for companies that have the scale and scope, an apprenticeship programme should allow individuals to work in a variety of roles. This alleviates pressure for new learners to immediately select a career path and instead, provides an opportunity to find where their skills and interests can be more keenly developed and in which they can excel.
By recruiting and training apprentices, the employer can tailor the apprentice’s learning in a way that fits specifically to the skills required for the role, and this knowledge can be built up as they progress into a permanent position.
Additionally, this means from the earliest stages employees are absorbed in the company’s core values, which will hopefully mean they are far more likely to maintain this ethos beyond the programme.
The Apprenticeships Evaluation for Learners report also found that apprentices in construction were particularly likely to be satisfied with the relevance of their training, employer support, and amount of time spent training. In addition, almost all (94%) of working apprentices felt that their apprenticeship had benefitted their career, and felt more secure in their job.
At Prater, we have recruited four apprentices to our Construction Industry Trainee Programme since 2018.
Over the course of their programme, they were able to work across all of the departments including: Commercial, Design, Operations and Sales/Estimating. Once the rotation was complete, the apprentices were able to specialise in one of the disciplines full time.
Since then, all four of our apprentices have now progressed into full-time roles whilst beginning their second and final year of the Higher National Certificate (HNC) Level 4 Construction in the Built Environment, something we are incredibly proud of.
Investing into an apprentice’s development creates a satisfied and motivated apprentice, meaning they are more likely to continue their career within the company, or at the very least, will continue to progress throughout the sector – building upon skills learnt during the course and effectively, helping to fill the skills gap.
We are all well aware that the employment and skills gap in the construction industry is one that urgently needs addressing. It is a complex issue, which requires both short term and long term solutions. However, by actively encouraging new talent into the sector through apprenticeships, individuals, businesses and the wider industry alike can all reap the benefits.