I read with interest the recent findings by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) that 53% of their members are having problems finding the right skills (July 20, page 11). Last year we provided a grant to support FMB members to train nearly 6,000 apprentices.

Apprentices have a key role to play in meeting industry output and the biggest challenge is giving young people the opportunity to learn the trade. In 2006 we placed nearly 9,000 apprentices throughout the UK and our completion rates are over 70%. Yet figures show that we have nearly 4,000 eligible candidates who are unable to find an employer to take them on.

We urge the government to take the lead by allocating adequate funds to ensure we can continue to support enough apprentices, but the real challenge is ensuring employers commit to training young people.

ConstructionSkills’ Programme Led Apprenticeships offer an alternative route to traditional apprenticeships. Furthermore ConstructionSkills Apprenticeships has a dedicated team which works with both employers and apprentices to provide support and advice throughout the training period, including grants of up to £9,400. Through these approaches we are confident we can drive up apprenticeship numbers.

Max Hamps, apprenticeships director, ConstructionSkills