Analysis by Direct Line for Business shows a drop in the uptake of construction and trade apprenticeships

Building skills

Research from Direct Line for Business, part of Direct Line Insurance Group, has revealed that construction and trade apprenticeships made up just 7% of all apprenticeships in 2013/14, down from a high of 12% in 2006.

The total number of apprenticeships overall increased by 57% in the last five years to 434,630 during 2013/14, but only 30,370 of these were in the construction and trade sectors.

In 2006/07, construction skills apprenticeships were the most popular with more than 20,000 apprenticeships undertaken indicating a decline in popularity for construction and trade apprenticeships since then.

Additionally, the anaylsis from Direct Line for Business showed that qualifications in construction, planning and the built environment made up only 5% of all qualifications in 2013/14 (232,200 out of 4.7 million).

Nick Breton, head of Direct Line for Business, said: “Construction and trade-based skills are vital to the UK economy. It’s tradespeople who come to the rescue when our boiler fails, and are the ones who are working every day to build homes, offices and help improve our roads.

“Apprenticeships are important for budding builders, plumbers and electricians to get into the workplace. With fewer people in apprenticeships there is a risk of creating a skills gap that will affect businesses and consumers alike.

“The introduction of the new £3bn apprenticeship levy in the government’s Autumn Statement and the promise of 3 million new apprenticeships across the UK is a positive move, which we hope will make it easier for SMEs to ensure that they have access to skilled young workers.”

Last year a poll from suggested that young people are failing to apply for apprenticeships because they feel there is more focus in the UK on securing an academic qualification.

Over half (53%) admitted to dismissing the trade industry in pursuit of a more academic career path. Other reasons listed included a reluctance to work evenings and weekends and the belief that the starting salary of a tradesman is too low.


 Top 10 Apprenticeships by volume of available places, 2013/14

  Type of apprenticeship Number of apprenticeships Share of apprenticeships
1 Health and Social Care 70,080 15.9%
2 Business Administration 44,190 10.0%
3 Management 33,140 7.5%
4 Hospitality and Catering 32,010 7.3%
5 Customer Service 31,320 7.1%
6 Children’s Care Learning and Development 24,320 5.5%
7 Retail 16,560 3.8%
8 Engineering 15,550 3.5%
9 Construction Skills 15,510 3.5%
10 Industrial Applications 14,860 3.4%
  Total 440,400  

                                                                                                  Source: DL4B analysis of ONS data