Construction bodies get on board to develop initiative that could entice school-leavers away from university

Construction organisations are working with the CITB to develop a pioneering apprenticeship-training scheme that will cover the entire industry.

The Major Contractors Group (MCG), Major Home Builders Group (MHG) and CITB-ConstructionSkills are putting together plans for the project, which they aim to pilot in 2005/6.

A CITB spokesperson said: “We are talking to the MCG and MHG to investigate how the whole supply chain can be engaged in training recruits.”

He added that there had been extensive research into the need for such a scheme. He said: “We have spent the past 12 months finding out from employers what they need from a training policy and funding.”

The move is the latest CITB initiative to increase the number of skilled construction workers entering the industry as it tries to fulfil its growing PFI workload. Last month the group launched a television campaign aimed at young people. It hopes the apprenticeships will tempt people away from academic university courses.

We have spent 12 months finding out what employers need from a training policy

CITB-ConstructionSkills spokesperson

The CITB spokesperson stressed that the scheme still needed work before it would be ready to trial. He said: “There are a number of issues that need to be ironed out before the plans are complete and ready to be made public. We anticipate that we will pilot the scheme, with selected companies, within the next two years”.

Companies’ commitment to training recruits has increased over the past year, particularly in the housebuilding sector. Last week affordable housing provider Lovell and contractors Wates and Bullock Construction signed up to a CITB-funded scheme to encourage young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter construction, with placements on sites in Bradford.

Tony Willson, chairman of Helmsman, a firm that links up contractors to training schemes, praised housebuilders involved in such initiatives. He said: “Housebuilders don’t really need apprentices, as those who are trained are immediately given to subcontractors. But many firms are participating as a way of contributing to the industry, which has to be welcomed”.