Currently one in ten jobs in Britain is the construction industry yet many of these opportunities are outsourced to overseas sub-contractors because there simply isn’t the skills set in Britain to fill them. The good news is that employment levels, particularly in the construction industry, are at an all-time high, the bad news is that 922,000 people aged 16-24 were not in education, employment or training in the second quarter of 2015*, 12.7% of people in this age group. The industry and government must do more to reform apprenticeships.
Watersafe director Julie Spinks says, “It is a travesty to think that we have so much opportunity in the UK trade industry yet so many young people are still out of work. The issue is clearly one of a lack of investment in apprenticeships. As a result of the tough recession years, trade businesses simply haven’t had the money or resource to invest in training new starters. However, this is something we must address and rapidly – or face simply not having the resources to fulfil our construction goals.”
If we do not reform apprenticeships then the plumbing sector simply will not be able to meet future demand. The government has taken some welcome steps to help rectify the situation by announcing its Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill and this means a pledge to create 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020. A new level 3 Apprenticeship standard for Plumbing and Domestic Heating technicians was launched earlier this year aimed at entrants looking to join the industry.
The perception is that the economy has not only stabilised but is growing and the construction sector is feeling this growth. For the plumbing sector to thrive and take full advantage of this, its skills set must be enhanced. This means investing time in quality apprentices to ensure that our skills base grows and we can meet the demands of the future with a thriving, skilled workforce. It makes economic sense to invest in home-grown talent and for the work that is available to be done by a domestic workforce.
*Commons Briefing Report Published Friday, August 21, 2015