Govt Called On To Review Apprenticeship Strategy

Burflex House, Clay Street, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU8 8HA E.

Burflex House, Clay Street, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU8 8HA E.

Govt Called On To Review Apprenticeship Strategy

Govt Called On To Review Apprenticeship Strategy

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has called on the government to carry out a review of its approach to apprenticeships, with the chief executive of the organisation saying that it must now provide for full funding for all age groups for first qualifications at levels 2 and 3.

Research from the FMB shows that the number of construction apprenticeship starts have fallen by nearly 50 per cent. In March this year, there were 694 construction, planning and built environment apprenticeship starts compared to the 1,247 seen in March 2018.

An independent panel report into post-18 education and funding, carried out last month (May), makes for interesting reading, showing that participation by adults in Level 3 has dropped in recent years, mainly down to changes in funding.

Before 2013, full funding was provided for any adult’s first full Level 3 qualification but this was changed for the 2013/2014 academic year.

Since then, anyone over the age of 24 and employed looking to obtain a Level 3 qualification has had to either take out an Advanced Learner Loan, pay for it using their own resources or try and persuade their employer to make contributions.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, explained: “Construction apprenticeship starts have suffered a serious hit and we now need decisive action from the government in order to reverse this decline … The government is uniquely placed to drive the apprenticeship agenda, and if ministers want to achieve their target of three million apprenticeship starts by the end of next year, they must review apprenticeship policy, including the Apprenticeship Levy.”

He went on to say that the construction industry itself must also take more steps to help promote the industry and the fall in apprenticeship starts should “sound the alarm” that not enough is being done to showcase the sector and all its merits, which include entrepreneurship, design and innovation.

If the skills shortage isn’t addressed through increasing apprenticeships and training, the industry won’t be able to grow and expand, Mr Berry went on.

Bringing in a mandatory licensing scheme for the industry could help create a real step change by improving the sector’s reputation through increasing professionalism and quality, which will help to make it more attractive to new recruits.

The FMB has also just urged the government to include certain construction roles in its Shortage Occupation List after the Migration Advisory Committee recognised that the sector is facing shortages in this regard.

Mr Berry noted that it is indeed shocking that there are so few roles recommended to be added to the list, given the fact that construction employers are increasingly finding it hard to find skilled workers.

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