ConstructionSkills predicts that just 36% of its apprentices in England will find work this year

The industry is facing a future skills crisis if more employers are not found for the UK’s 30,200 construction apprentices, an industry trainer has warned.

The warning comes as figures from ConstructionSkills reveal that 3,500 of its 9,770 apprentices in England can expect to find employment this year, compared with 4,600 a year ago.

Geoff Lister, chairman of the Cross-Industry Construction Apprenticeship Task Force, said the skills shortage was a “time bomb waiting to go off”.

ConstructionSkills predicted an even bigger plunge in Scotland, with only 1,200 apprentices expected to find employment – a 46% drop since 2008.

Construction apprentices must complete a period of work-based employment under commercial conditions in order to achieve an NVQ. Without it they are unable to qualify as a skilled worker.

I’ve had reports from colleges that are over-subscribed with students

Geoff Lister

Figures from ConstructionSkills in September showed a total of about 2,500 apprentices have now been made redundant across England, Scotland and Wales. Of these, about 900 have been re-employed through the skills body’s matching service.

Mike Bialyj, employer services director for ConstructionSkills, said: “We must train young people now – waiting for the economy to completely recover will be too late”.

Lister added: “I’ve had reports from colleges over-subscribed with students wanting to get involved in construction courses.”

Stephen Ratcliffe, director of the UK Contractors Group, admitted it was an issue of great concern.

“It’s on the agenda for our next committee meeting,” he said. “If we’re not careful we’re going to lose the skills needed for when the upturn comes.”