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National Apprenticeship Week – Apprenticeships in Construction

18th March 2016

This week is National Apprenticeship Week (NAW 2016) with the theme of “an apprenticeship can take you anywhere”. We couldn’t agree more with this theme, as apprenticeships are everywhere across the UK, helping young people get to where they want to be in their career. Apprenticeships are becoming essential in the construction industry, so here’s an overview of the different aspects of apprenticeships in construction.

Apprenticeship or University?

There have been some recent studies on whether getting an apprenticeship is better than going to university in terms of getting you to where you want to be with your career. Although there are some well-respected leading job roles within the construction industry that require more extensive training than an apprenticeship – such as Quantity Surveying for example – almost 60% of construction bosses in the UK got to where they are from starting with an apprenticeship. Keeping this in mind, most employers aren’t just looking for a high-end qualification such as a degree, they’re looking for someone who has practical experience within the industry. This shows that in most cases, starting as an apprentice and working your way up to where you want to be is a better path to take rather than going to university.

The Rise of Apprenticeships in Construction

In the last year, apprenticeships in the construction industry have risen by 12%, which is the highest it’s been in the last six years. These figures haven’t been seen in the UK since before the 2008 financial crash, giving good indication that the construction industry is finally recovering from the recession. Since 2012, the number of construction apprenticeships has risen from 17,500 up to an impressive 22,496. Due to the practical experience that apprentices are getting on a daily basis, they’re also performing better than graduates in the workplace, with 78% of employers stating that their apprentices’ work is either good or very good, compared to 73% for graduates.

The UK Skills Gap

The UK’s construction industry is facing an ever-increasing skills gap that could be detrimental to the industry as a whole. Over the next decade it’s estimated that the retention gap could cost the industry almost £10 billion, with a significant lack of skills making it difficult to fill around 1.8 million jobs. As apprenticeships allow an individual to gain an accredited qualification whilst at the same time gaining invaluable experience on the job, they are a sure fire solution to plugging the skills gap. Around 81% of UK workers believe apprentices have what it takes to abolish the skills gap, meaning the significant increase of construction apprenticeships over the last year is a great step in the right direction.

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