Apprenticeships can help apprentices develop experience, gain job-specific skills and obtain a formal qualification whilst at the same time earning a wage. There are many different forms of apprenticeship, but typically, they will take 1 to 4 years and will involve studying one day a week.
Apprenticeships might include:
- On-the-job coaching and learning.
- Off-the-job learning.
- Employer induction and training.
- Online learning and support.
- Mentoring and line management support.
- Specific training for individuals.
The government defines the levels of apprenticeship as:
- Intermediate - equivalent to 5 GCSE passes.
- Advanced - equivalent to 2 A level passes.
- Higher - can lead to NVQ Level 4 and above, or a foundation degree.
In the construction industry, apprenticeships are a vital part of developing a skilled workforce. Apprenticeships are available in areas such as; building, civil engineering, construction management, electrical servicing, surveying, heating and plumbing, and so on as well as specialist apprenticeships such as scaffolding, plastering, roofing, kitchen and bathroom fitting and so on.
- Traditional apprenticeship, combining studying at college with experience on-site over a two to four year period resulting in an NVQ or SVQ qualification.
- Higher apprenticeships, providing broad-based training and a structured career path for a range of technical, supervision and management roles.
- Specialist apprenticeships, serving sectors and employers that can’t access specialist apprenticeships through local colleges or training providers.
- Shared apprenticeships, giving apprentices a variety of experience by working for more than one employer.
According to government statistics, 2.2 million apprenticeships were created between 2010, and 2015. 7 out of 10 employers find apprenticeships useful to their business and apprenticeships are proven to increase the earnings of those who undertake them.
However, construction apprenticeship numbers fell following the credit crunch, and the industry increasingly complains that it has an ageing workforce.
In 2015, Federation of Master Builders (FMB) chief executive Brian Berry said “The government’s target of three million additional apprenticeships over the coming five years is suitably ambitious but reforms are required to ensure that these are actually delivered. As construction accounts for around 7% of GDP, it means our sector should be responsible for around 210,000 of these apprenticeships, which equates to 42,000 a year over the next parliament. Given that the industry only achieved 16,000 in 2013/2014, there is a lot of work to be done.”
In June 2015, the Independent reported that detailed analysis of government figures revealed in a parliamentary answer to Diana Johnson, the Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull North, showed there had been a sharp drop in the number of construction apprenticeships. In 2009-10 there were 16,890 apprentices in construction, planning and built environment, but just four years later there were just 8,000. Ref Thousands of apprenticeships lost in key industries including construction and IT.
On 14 June 2015, Skills Minister Nick Boles MP, announced that provisions will be made for apprenticeships to be given equal legal treatment as degrees, with the term ‘apprenticeship’ protected in law, giving government the power to take action when the term is misused to promote low quality courses. Ref BIS Government kick-starts plans to reach 3 million apprenticeships.
In August 2015, the government launched a consultation process for a new apprenticeships levy that will apply to the construction industry. This may threaten the continued role of the CITB. See Apprenticeships levy for more information.
In March 2017, the RIBA announced that an ‘Architecture Trailblazer’ group of practices had won approval from the Department for Education (DfE) for apprenticeship schemes for for two apprenticeship routes:
- Architectural Assistant: A level 6 qualification equivalent to Part 1, taking four years, with 20% academic training and a degree being awarded upon completion.
- Architect: A level 7 qualification taking four years (beyond Level 6/Part 1), with 20% academic training and no further studies required for registration.
The scheme is due to start in 2019, funded by a levy on employers with an annual payroll of more than £3m.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
What is liquidation and how does it apply to contractors in the construction industry?
Scrutiny is placed on Carillion's controversial 2013 decision to extend subcontractor payment terms to 120 days.
RSHP unveil their involvement in a boundary crossing which will provide a new entry point into Hong Kong.
With PFI currently under the spotlight due to Carillion, this introductory article explains what they are.
Estimates suggest that up to 30,000 small firms could be at risk of non-payment as a result of Carillion's collapse.
Sir Oliver Letwin to lead an independent review into the delays in the delivery of housing.
As Carillion collapses, read our article explaining insolvency in the construction industry.
43,000 jobs at risk as Carillion declares insolvency..
1961 saw the publication of three important books about urban design that remain relevant today.
Next week the planning fee increases by 20% and new fees are introduced.
How the transformative power of BIM and other digital technologies can be used to gain a competitive edge.