Unite calls for greater government investment in training for young people in construction and engineering

Chronic skills shortages will spell disaster for the UK's construction and engineering sectors unless the government accelerates young people's training, union Unite has warned.

The caution came from Les Bayliss, the union's assistant general secretary, as part of National Apprenticeship week.

“Overall apprenticeships may be growing, but in the construction and engineering sectors numbers fell dramatically during the downtown,” Bayliss said.

“Therefore in National Apprenticeship week, we are encouraged by government plans to step up financial and logistical support, as well as exploring new ways of supporting employers in these difficult times. This includes the Future Jobs Fund, and the £1 billion windfall on bankers bonuses which is being earmarked for jobs, training and apprenticeships for young people through the governments Backing Young Britain campaign.”

The leading training provider of Advanced Apprenticeships to the building services engineering sector, JTL, said that for every apprentice it places with an employer, it has to turn away two applicants.

Over a third (36%) of workers in the construction industry were under 30 in 1990 compared with only a quarter of the sector's workforce today, Unite said.

Bayliss added: “We want to see new and existing firms who have long standing and terrific records in investing in apprentices rewarded in future procurement and contracts within the supply chain in public sector projects.