Last edited 27 Feb 2021

Can apprenticeships solve the construction skills crisis?

With an estimated 168,500 construction jobs to be created between 2019 and 2023 according to the CITB, apprenticeships in construction have a vital role to play in helping close the construction skills gap.


[edit] A strong uptake in construction apprenticeships

According to the apprenticeships statistics released in January 2019 by the Department for Education, the number of building and construction apprenticeships started over the past five years has significantly increased. If the current number of construction apprenticeships started in Q1 2018/19 grows at the same rate as the previous years, the number of construction apprenticeships will have doubled in a year.

TempaGoGo construction apprenticeship uptake.png

Furthermore, these statistics show that the proportion of building and construction apprenticeships as part of the total number of apprenticeships has significantly increased over the period, from 3.7% in 2014/15 to 8.4% in the first three months of 2018/19.

TempaGoGo Proportion of Construction apprenticeships.png

While apprenticeships have a very important role to play in helping address the construction skills shortages, there are still some challenges ahead for certain professions.

[edit] All construction apprenticeships are not equal

[edit] Bricklaying and carpentry apprenticeships

Bricklaying is one of the skilled trades in highest demand in the UK construction industry, with an estimated shortage of 15,000 bricklayers, according to the draft Letwin report.

However, while the bricklaying apprenticeship standard was approved in June 2018, only four months after the carpentry and joinery apprenticeship standards (Level 2 and 3), there has been four times more apprenticeships started in carpentry than in bricklaying in Q1 2018/19.

This may present a risk for the ambitious government programme to build 300,000 homes annually in England.

TempaGoGo Brickwork and carpentry apprenticeship.png

[edit] Quantity surveying apprenticeships

The Construction and Infrastructure Survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) of Q1 2019 highlighted that quantity surveying is one of the construction occupations with acute staff shortages, with 60% construction companies reporting issues recruiting quantity surveyors.

It is interesting to note that, since the introduction of three surveying apprenticeships' standards (chartered surveyor degree, surveying technician and most recently geospatial survey technician), the number of apprenticeships in quantity surveying has grown steadily.

Furthermore, the majority (77%) of quantity surveying apprenticeships were started by students expecting to achieve a Chartered Surveyor degree, which is a promising outcome for the profession.

[edit] TempaGoGo Quantity surveying apprenticeships.png Construction management apprenticeships

The CIOB-cross industry report of January 2019 showed that two third of construction companies are struggling to hire site supervisors and site managers in the UK.

It is positive to note that the number of Construction Management apprenticeships has increased year-on-year over the past 5 years.

TempaGoGo Construction management apprenticeships.png

Furthermore, 2 apprenticeships standards in Construction Management (Construction Site Supervisor (Level 4) and Construction Site Management (Level 6)) are currently in development, which should help address the skill gap in those two professions.

[edit] Conclusion

While apprenticeships in Construction won't be able to solve the construction skill shortage challenge by themselves, the strong uptake of apprenticeships in Construction Management, Quantity Surveying and Carpentry is a positive sign for the industry.

However, more needs to be done to attract talent in certain construction trades such as bricklaying, where "flash on-the-job" training might offer a solution for the short term, as recommended by the Letwin report.

This article was created by Caroline Pegden from TempaGoGo on 16 May 2019 based on the Department for Education Apprenticeships statistics released in January 2019.

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