The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has brushed off claims from other employers that the Government’s apprenticeship levy, introduced last April, is difficult to understand and use. The BMF has successfully launched Apprenticeships Plus including an Apprenticeship Training Agency to research and access apprenticeships for their members.

The Agency’s services have been made available to all members, facilitating over 120 new apprenticeship roles and provides services such as skills audits, levy management, and the creation of new apprenticeship standards, exactly tailored to job roles within the merchanting sector. The BMF has supported over 60 builders’ merchants to access the levy or develop roles for apprentices, and expects that this will result in hundreds of new apprenticeships across the sector.

This type of additional support for employers is likely to be welcomed as recent reports indicate that only a handful of the 1,400 affected apprentices from Carillion have been able to accept alternative employment due to the opportunities not being close enough to home. In response, the Construction Industry Training Board has called for more employers to step forward and offer more opportunities for apprentices and trainees.

John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the Builders Merchants Federation comments:

‘The Building Materials Industry, which is valued at £55 billion, is growing fast, with most of our members reporting strong growth across 2017 and into this year. In all parts of the country, there are many great opportunities for enthusiastic and skilled people to enter our exciting sector.

‘We truly value what apprentices can bring to our industry and through our own Apprenticeships Training Agency, and our dedicated recruitment portal, we are keen to encourage as many people as possible into the sector.

‘We have been able to utilise the opportunities provided by the Government’s reforms to apprenticeships to encourage the availability of these roles for trainees and to help address skills shortages in our industry. Our Apprenticeships Training Agency has broken down perception barriers, expounded the fantastic opportunities open to our members, and demystified the levy and any issues employers believed existed in the accessibility of apprenticeships and training for all.’

During National Apprenticeships Week, the BMF has been encouraging potential apprentices to consider moving into the building materials industry by exhibiting at the National Apprenticeship Shows as well as some other similar regional events. To start the week, the BMF was at Sandown Park for an event which was attended by 20,000 school leavers, teachers and parents. Those in attendance were particularly interested to hear of the diversity of job roles available in the sector and the broad range of apprenticeships the BMF scheme can offer.