Build March Issue

Build Magazine 55 Regulation current performance within the realms of training and of course, what we all need to do to push things forward. Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders delivered a speech following the announcement of the 2020 apprenticeship initiative. In it, he explained that the construction sector accounts for 7% of the UK’s GDP, which means it should be responsible for 210,000 of the three million new apprenticeships. An impressive figure you might say – one which is sure to close the skills gap? Consider though, that in order to meet that target of 210,000 new apprenticeships, our industry would need to enrol a staggering 42,000 new learners per annum – quite a leap from the 16,000 we welcomed last year. In short, there is a sizable job to be done if we are to maximise the opportunities presented to us by the Government’s latest pledge – an opportunity we need to grab with both hands in order to narrow and eventually close the skills gap in line with the retirement of our ageing workforce. Choosing the right levy The new Apprenticeship Levy will cut across multiple sectors within the UK, with the construction industry firmly on the list. This brings with it great opportunity for small and medium sized companies to benefit from carefully distributed funding for training programmes and the recruitment of fresh talent. Like a number of other sectors however, there is already a similar levy in existence, which is operated by the Construction Industry Training Board. Up for renewal in March 2018, industry bodies will be forced to decide how this existing levy fits into the legal requirements of its new nationally recognised counterpart. The road to recovery Following the economic downturn there was a sharp fall in the uptake of construction apprenticeships throughout 2009 and 2010. Since then the number has increased year on year with no sign of slowing, as more and more youngsters become interested in the many varied and interesting disciplines and career paths offered by the construction industry. This improvement is in part due to the commitment of organisations like Aggregate Industries, which have well-established teams of staff dedicated to the enrolment, progression and recruitment of apprenticeships, as well as the continued support of colleges and universities. A notable example of this can be seen at Leicestershire based Stephenson College - where many of our engineering apprentices train – which has recently benefited from the opening of a new Technical Centre of Engineering Excellence, thanks to a strategic partnership between Aggregate Industries and Siemens. With funding available for three million apprenticeships, it is up to us as manufacturers, suppliers and contractors to pull together and create a demand for a bigger slice of the pie. Being convinced of the commercial benefits to recruiting apprentices is one thing, but we need to dedicate time and resources to developing strong college links, solid in-house training and development procedures and enticing marketing materials that will attract young learners to all levels of our supply chain. In other words, the Government’s 2020 apprenticeship commitment poses a great opportunity, now what we have to do is leverage it for the greater good of our industry. Aggregate Industries - a commitment to lifelong learning As a key player in its market place, Aggregate Industries has been leading the way for the enrolment of apprentices and other work-based learning schemes. As a member of the 5% Club, Aggregate Industries are striving to achieve a goal of 5% of their workforce consisting of apprentices, sponsored students and/or graduates on formalised training schemes within five years. With a commitment to lifelong learning, the manufacturer currently has 49 young colleagues enrolled on a variety of apprenticeship schemes from Engineering and Marine, to Mechanical and Business Administration. In addition to its substantial and well-established apprenticeship scheme, the organisation currently has 11 employees participating in a graduate training scheme and a further 31 team members of all ages studying for a variety of Higher Education qualifications including foundation, Bachelor and Masters degrees. Donna Hunt, Head of Sustainability at Aggregate Industries, says: “The whole ethos of sustainability is to be able to manage what a company will look like and how it will be performing in years to come, and central to this is the people. Aggregate Industries recognises that a skilled work force is necessary to stimulate growth and achieve excellence in sustainability. Our apprenticeship scheme is about building a pipeline of skills and talents in preparation for a future sector where these credentials will be in high demand, as well as re-opening routes for people in new areas of work.”