50,000 applications expected for just 7,000 places - Demand for degree places also up

The number of apprenticeship places available within the construction industry has dropped by more than a quarter since last year, it has emerged.


Employers have provided 7,000 apprenticeship placements since last September, a 26% drop from 9,500 the previous year. More than 50,000 people are expected to apply for apprenticeships this year, which means 86% are likely to be unsuccessful.

The figures are expected to fuel criticism of employers over the skills shortage. It is estimated that the industry needs 87,600 recruits each year for the next four years to meet demand.

About 10,500 applicants have passed the ConstructionSkills selection test and are waiting for placements. The skills and training body wants up to 1,750 employers to come forward in the next few weeks.

ConstructionSkills offers employers up to £9,400 to take on an apprentice, and up to £3,000 towards programme-led apprenticeships, through which employers take on an apprentice for one year. This year it launched the specialist apprenticeship programme for skilled trades.

Max Hamps, apprenticeship director at ConstructionSkills, said: “ConstructionSkills has faced one of its most difficult employer recruitment years. We are at risk of a severe skills shortage in the future.”

Joe Johnson, spokesperson on training for the Construction Confederation, said: “You have to look at the cycle of recruitment. There are peaks and troughs. A company might recruit a number of apprentices one year and not have room the next.”

The latest figures from Ucas, the university admissions body, show demand for full-time construction courses has also risen. Applications for construction-related courses have risen by almost 18% since last year. more than one-third since 2003.

Meanwhile, results came in last week for the pilot construction GCSE taken by 1,020 students. They show that 45% received Cs or above, while 1% received A*.