Sector - skills
Apprenticeships: Aiding the Construction Skills Revolution
The UK is always in need of talent in construction; from building houses and offices to helping to lay rail track and maintain roads, the work the industry does is vital to the economy. The numbers speak for themselves, with the industry contributing £117 billion to the UK economy in 2018, according to the Chartered Institute of Building. And yet, consistently for the last few years, the industry has been suffering with a skills shortage, which is creating an ongoing challenge for employers who rely on experienced staff to deliver what their business needs. Phil Eves, education co-ordinator at BAM Construction, looks at the benefits apprenticeships bring to the industry.
Whilst there is no set path to starting a career in construction, BAM Construction has an active and comprehensive program, working with emerging talent who are coming through the technical education route. Here in the Midlands – we currently have seven technical apprentices and four T Level students on industry placement with us, and five more in the pipeline to start within the business. Included within our plans for 2023 is a third student from Thomas Telford UTC, who is part of our T Level and Apprenticeship exchange programme with Baily Garner and their offices in Birmingham. We work with Baily Garner as they are a fellow employer on the UTC Employers Board and we realised that students would benefit from our unique approach as they study Design, as well as Planning and Surveying, which we support on site at Windsor Olympus Academy in Birmingham. In June 2022, our unique partnership was recognised at the insider West Midlands Residential Property Awards, where we jointly won the Skills and Training Award.
This week marks the 16th National Apprenticeship Week and to celebrate, we have highlighted the positive impact technical education can have on individuals and employers, all while serving as a solution to tackling the wider industry skills shortage issue.
Technical qualifications, like T Levels and apprenticeships, are helping to make construction a more accessible industry, by allowing individuals of all backgrounds to learn important construction skills, crucial to navigating our industry. Our business is seeing that many young people in the region with an interest in engineering are steering towards mechanical and electrical services, which is enabling BAM to plan the talent pipeline for the future. We can start working ahead of time to balance employee numbers, ensuring staff that move on don’t leave the workforce in a skills deficit.
Progression planning is a key reason for investing in technical education, and by onboarding T Level students and apprentices, BAM is able to plan for the next wave of construction managers – In a range of construction disciplines. As a business, you can also have the knowledge that you are hiring individuals who are passionate about the industry and align with the values and skills sought after in candidates.
Upskilling gives the workforce a boost in confidence – a reassurance that the company is investing in them to make them a more proficient employee. Knowing your employer values your presence as an employee and is willing to invest in you to take your career to the next level can be encouraging and overall, this helps retain staff as well as attract them.
T Level students on industry placement with us, give the business the opportunity to place students on sites whilst they establish which route is best suited for them. T Level students also have the opportunity to apply for an apprenticeship with the business on completion of their T Level course, providing them with a clear pathway into our business and their future.
Creating a joint curriculum
Employers can play an active part in shaping exactly what apprentices and T Levels students learn. This means, for example, you can ensure they’re informed on up-to-date advances and trends within the industry such as changing safety legislation or green construction. Employers, like ourselves, don’t do this alone but rather work together with local training providers to create a robust and comprehensive learning program that will be beneficial for students that study construction. Their experience with you will create a foundation, one they’ll remember for years to come when they’re advancing within their career.
A resilient future
Overall, the aim of every business is to build resilience. Attracting and retaining talent is key to making that happen. Any stagnation in a pipeline is set to cause issues and hinder productivity and growth – this is why apprenticeships and T Levels offer timely solutions to the skills shortages businesses and industry face. Through these training and employment schemes, businesses can also work to attract more diverse talent too, building an industry which finds strength in being representative, as well as highly skilled.
To find out more about how you can get your organisation involved visit: https://find-employer-schemes.education.gov.uk
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