What does the sacking of Robert Halfon mean for construction apprenticeships?
General elections always bring periods of uncertainty for business, and following the shock result of a hung parliament, getting back to stability is rightly where Prime Minister Theresa May is focusing her energy right now.
Her recent reshuffle was a sign of that, with most ministers being reappointed to their pre-election roles – with a few notable examples.
Like many construction companies, we at Novus watched the ins-and-outs with interest, and one change struck us as particularly significant: as of 11th June 2017, the government has removed Robert Halfon as Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills, with no replacement yet in sight.
Mr Halfon’s record as apprenticeship minister has been broadly successful: he has kept apprenticeships at the forefront of the agenda: he delivered a record 900,000 apprenticeships and passed the Technical and Further Education Act, and for that he must be applauded.
However, the need for construction apprenticeships has arguably never been greater.
A recent report by the Construction Industry Training Board estimates that the projected annual recruitment requirement across the construction industry is 35,710 between 2017 and 2021. In wood trades and interior fit out, 3,850 new recruits will be required each year, with 2,250 new employees needed in the electrical trades and insulation.
At Novus, we see the training of apprentices as one of the most effective ways of filling these significant gaps and maintaining our excellent standards of work.
We put a great deal of effort into recruiting, training and retaining apprentices within the business: we received over 1,000 applications for our apprenticeship scheme this year. Apprentices here at Novus receive tailored mentoring and training throughout their three-year apprenticeship, resulting in a 91 per cent retention rate. All of this puts us in a strong position to face the challenges that may lie ahead.
And with no formal government lead on construction apprenticeships, those of us who work in the industry must step up to the mark and continue to champion the development of people who wish to begin a career in our sector.
It is our responsibility to create a clear career path for talented people joining from outside the industry, whatever their age, background or previous experience. CITB’s report shows that the UK needs almost 100 new people to join the construction sector every day.
Apprenticeships can help to fill this gap, but with no government minister to push this change though, construction companies must make a formal commitment to keep the apprenticeship and momentum going.
It’s up to companies like Novus to continue to encourage people to join the industry and support them throughout their career development.
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