Latest figures show employers planning to take on 1,560 apprentices - up from 900 last year

The construction sector’s major players are committed to hiring 70% more apprentices this year compared to 2011, according to the latest headcount.

Figures from the Industry Training Board and CITB-ConstructionSkills show a collective training budget for some 1,560 full-time apprentices, significantly up from last year’s level of around 900.

The hike reflects planning for a market pick-up towards the end of 2013 on the part of employers including UK Contractors Group, Home Builders Federation, and Major Home Builders Group.

Mike Bialyj, director of employer skills at CITB-ConstructionSkills, said the outlook for apprenticeships was looking “much healthier” than last year.

“It’s clear that employers are carefully planning their 2013/14 workforce now to make sure they have the skills and talent at the ready to take advantage of the opportunities that will arise,” he said.

“Apprentices are the lifeblood of the industry and continued support for apprenticeships is critical if we are to have a steady pipeline of talent coming into the sector.

“We are an ageing industry with one in 10 expected to retire in the next decade, so we really need to continue to recruit and train more people into the sector.”

Kier PLC is planning to take on “at least” 145 apprentices this year.

Ian Dickerson, head of new entrants at the firm, said it had benefitted greatly from supporting and investing in apprentices.

“Many of our skilled and valued employees have come into the industry via this route, and we want to continue to source and develop new entrants in this way,” he said.