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.
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 apprenticeshipsstarted in Q1 2018/19 grows at the same rate as the previous years, the number of construction apprenticeships will have doubled in a year.
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.
While apprenticeships have a very important role to play in helping address the constructionskills shortages, there are still some challenges ahead for certain professions.
All construction apprenticeships are not equal
Bricklaying and carpentry apprenticeships
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.
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.
Construction management apprenticeships
It is positive to note that the number of Construction Management apprenticeships has increased year-on-year over the past 5 years.
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.
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.