Only by avoiding the ‘skills timebomb’ can construction reap the rewards of recovery
With the financial turmoil of recent years, the number of apprenticeships available has understandably fallen dramatically. We have to reverse this trend as soon as we can if we are to make the best of the upturn. Here at CITB, our estimates suggest that we need to double the current level of apprenticeships available in the next five years if we are to avoid a ‘skills timebomb’.
Evidence from research that CITB published recently shows how important it is for those of us in the industry to take charge of the issue - 35% of careers advisers believe that construction is an unattractive career opportunity and; 44% of teachers admit to having offered ill-informed careers advice to students. Clearly, if we’re waiting for third party sources of careers guidance to boost the number of apprentices, we will wait in vain.
The more high-performing individuals we get into the industry, the more opportunity we will have to reap the rewards that the improving economic landscape has to offer
To get the facts over to individuals, teachers, parents and guardians, CITB is working to increase the reach of the Construction Ambassador Programmes of industry role models providing information on construction careers in schools; increase coverage of construction at major careers and recruitment events and join forces with supply chains, federations, training groups and professional institutions to support local careers events.
But while this will provide a good foundation, we will only turn the tide if employers join forces with us to attract talent into the industry. They are ideally placed to inspire and recruit the next generation of apprentices themselves by getting into schools and setting out the stall for teachers and pupils.
The evidence is that there is genuine enthusiasm for this approach. The publication of Careers Information Advice and Guidance research in February met with an immediate response, with 17 companies pledging their active support for getting into schools.
Of course, getting involved means investing time and effort but it’s an investment that will provide a healthy return. The more high-performing individuals we get into the industry, the more opportunity we will have to reap the rewards that the improving economic landscape has to offer.
William Burton is interim chief executive of the CITB