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BSRIA concerned with lack of apprentices in the industryAugust 2015


Julia Evans OBE, BSRIA Chief Executive
BSRIA is concerned by a report that says ‘Britain is not training enough bricklayers’. Construction apprenticeships are down 60 per cent since 2009 despite employer demand says the LGA (Local Government Association).

While almost two-thirds of surveyors told the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors earlier this year that the construction skills shortage was a significant barrier to building and, in turn, business growth. According to employers, more than half of construction skilled trade vacancies are now hard to fill – the worst position for all the skilled trades.

And two thirds of small businesses are turning down work due to the growing skills shortage according to a survey from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). Respondents to the survey said that pressure from parents to stay in full-time education and the perception of low-wages was hampering apprentices. According to the FMB, the industry needs around 35,000 new apprentices just to cope with demand, however, in 2013 only around 7,000 apprentices completed their training in construction and it is clear to the FMB that the skills shortage is the biggest issue currently facing the housebuilding industry.

The Construction Industry Training Board is trying to lure those who left the industry when house-building slumped during the credit crunch and to improve the training of those already working in the industry. However housing starts are at their highest annual level since 2007.

Only last week, BSRIA launched its White Paper on ‘Bridging the Skills Gap’, which posed the question: ‘What does our industry need from Government to recruit new entrants and upskill the existing workforce?’ One of the root causes was that ‘too many in government do not have an engineering background and so are disconnected from industry’. What we clearly need is someone in government to come up with some bright ideas and incentivise.

Julia Evans, Chief Executive, BSRIA, said: “We need to change the image of our industry. Government can help industry to communicate better to make engineering more interesting. We need to move the focus away from one of being a ‘construction industry’ to one focussed on ‘the built environment’.

BSRIA acknowledges the hard work and achievement of those receiving yesterday’s GCSE results and we’d encourage those who feel unsure of what to do next to properly explore their options and consider the building industry – especially through apprenticeship schemes. The construction industry offers fantastic earning potential and a whole host of exciting careers.

For those wanting to stay on in education, it is particularly worrying that the number of A-level physics passes reduced by just over 400 this year on last. Physics is a precursor for mechanical and electrical engineering.”

The LGA, which represents over 370 councils in England and Wales, is calling on the government to work with the construction industry, councils and education providers to develop a national ‘Skills to Build’ strategy, delivered locally through the devolution process.

Previous LGA research has highlighted that up to 25 per cent of forecast economic growth to 2022 could be lost if employers cannot recruit the skills and capabilities that they need.

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