ConstructionSkills is to give employers an extra £1,000 for each apprentice taken on.

The move is part of a government drive to raise the number of construction apprentices to 400,000 in England by 2020. This would require more than 250,000 starts and 190,000 completions. The news emerged during National Apprenticeship Week and follows ConstructionSkills’ announcement that apprenticeship completions had dropped from 5,454 in 2006 to 5,310 in 2007.

The funding relates to the programme-led scheme, under which participants study for two years and undertake a 9-12 month placement on site to achieve an NVQ2. Traditional apprenticeships, to NVQ3, usually involve three years on site and some study.

Currently, employers taking programme-led apprentices receive £2,000 at the end of NVQ2. Under the new system, employers will receive an extra £1,000. There will also be benefits for employers who keep apprentices on for the third year, up to NVQ3.

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform has invited the Cross-Industry Task Force on Apprenticeship Numbers to a discussion on apprenticeships on 31 March.