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The importance of apprenticeships in construction

Posted on 5/10/2020 at 10:33 AM by in Blog

With an ageing workforce, it’s time to look to the youth for the future of construction.

It’s no secret that construction is mostly made up from more experienced workers, so how do we get young people interested in a job in the industry?

A great way of achieving this is through apprenticeship schemes.

As we are currently seeing a shortage of skills in construction, apprenticeships are more important than ever. Here’s some general information about construction apprenticeship schemes, and what makes a good or bad one.

What are apprenticeships and are there any benefits?

For those who aren’t aware, an apprenticeship is a paid job with structured training and usually a qualification at the end of it.

Construction apprenticeships are generally a great way of building up work skills, getting valuable on-site experience and gaining a knowledge of the industry first hand – setting you up for a future in construction.

The majority of apprenticeships start off on a lower wage (around National Minimum Wage), with the potential of pay rises over the course of the scheme (depending on the employer).

Apprenticeships are a common path for people coming out of school, acting as a popular alternative to A-levels and degrees. Being able to learn on the job and get firsthand experience often puts people ahead of their peers who attend university to get a degree, but ultimately have no real world experience.

For many years now, there has been a myth about construction apprentices, with people often considering it to be a career path chosen by those who didn’t do well at school – but this is completely false.

Construction is suitable for anyone who’s interested, and can lead to a very long, successful career if the person is applied enough and determined. According to the Department for Education, around 23% of apprentices secure a promotion within 12 months of qualifying.

Another desirable aspect of offering apprenticeships is the ability to essentially mould a person into the ideal worker for your company, as opposed to hiring someone who might have a different style of working to you.

This will eliminate the chance of hiring a worker that might have some bad habits, allowing you to teach the apprentice your methods from the ground up.

What makes a good or bad apprenticeship scheme?

While getting more young people involved in construction via apprenticeships is definitely a good thing, we’d be lying if we said that they don’t vary in terms of quality.

For example, a good apprenticeship scheme will involve taking the person through a long term programme, often with some study involved to go alongside the on-site work. The position will be a paid one, with a view to working towards a full-time permanent role once the apprenticeship ends (if they make the grade).

You tend to find that these types of apprenticeship schemes will be company led, rather than any sort of Government incentive.

A bad apprenticeship on the other hand, will be very different. You’ll find that there are some companies that will use funding/find ways to get paid for taking on apprentices, only to let them go once the scheme has been completed.

These businesses will be looking for any way to get “cheap labour”, not offering any sort of substantial career path and likely taking shortcuts every step of the way (including the actual training of the apprentice). See our previous article for more examples of “cutting corners” in construction.

The success rate of apprenticeships will often rely on the quality of the training given and the benefits of the scheme, so it’s essential that companies know how to look after their apprentices.

Some of the common reasons behind people not completing their apprenticeships include better job offers with better pay, more opportunities for career progressions or simply fitting their skill set better.

This is something that employers should bear in mind when putting together their apprenticeship applications. If you want to keep these workers, you need to create an environment for them to succeed and want to grow with you.

Government Kickstart Scheme – What is it and can it be abused?

As everyone reading this already knows, 2020 has been particularly tough on the construction industry due to the outbreak of COVID-19 earlier in the year.

The Government are aware of this, so they announced the Kickstart Scheme – a £2billion fund to create hundreds of thousands of 6-month work placements aimed at 16-24 year old’s who are at risk of long-term unemployment.

The scheme offers funding for each position, covering 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours of work a week.

The Government has also introduced a payment of £2,000 to employers in England for every new apprentice hired under 25, and a payment of £1,500 for hiring apprentices aged 25 and over. To be eligible for this money, apprentices need to be hired between 1st August 2020 and 31st January 2021.

These payments come on top of the existing £1,000 payment that employers are receiving for any new apprentices hired between the ages of 16 and 18.

We personally think that this is a fantastic scheme that is sure to keep a lot of people working, but we’re skeptical that there will be some companies looking to take advantage of this “free labour”.

As we saw with the furlough scheme, people took advantage of a generous scheme that was designed to help during a time of crisis, so forgive us for assuming the worst.

What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts.


In summary, apprentices are essential for the future of this industry, so we need to keep investing in them and seeing them to fruition. If we want to keep skilled workers in construction, it starts at the very beginning.

Good schemes lead to good workers, so companies need to do their part in helping the youth of today become the workforce of tomorrow.

What could we be doing to get more young people interested in a career in construction and keep them for the long haul? Feel free to tweet us @utilitysearches and let us know your thoughts.

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