New guidance for local authorities and contractors was launched early last week to help boost construction apprenticeships.
While many local authority contracts have proved to be an effective means of promoting apprenticeships, the construction sector has reported challenges with some local authorities requiring contractors to recruit apprentices from within their borough, without first analysing the skills gaps or if the project is long enough for the apprentices to complete their training.
The new guidance encourages local authorities to enter into a dialogue with contractors to determine what will work in practice.
A best-practice approach, as outlined in the guidance, could include:
The new guidance, "Working together to boost local construction Apprenticeships through public procurement", was officially launched at the government's Construction Summit on 2 July. The summit, which took place at the Park Plaza Westminster, gave construction industry employers the opportunity to hear from, meet, and network with those who are responsible for shaping government policies and major projects.
The guidance highlights key challenges to maximising those opportunities and suggests approaches to good practice in collaboration. Key sources of support are posted in the document, which is available on the National Apprenticeship Service website. The guidance has been developed by the National Apprenticeship Service, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Local Government Association, CITB and UKCG, and has support from the wider construction sector.
Speaking at the summit, Construction Minister Michael Fallon (pictured) said: "I fully support local authorities encouraging contractors to take on apprentices through public procurement, but the requirements need to be workable. With the global construction market forecasted to grow by 70% by 2025, we must make sure that our efforts do not hinder the UK sector, and this guidance will help remove unworkable practice."
Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: "We are reforming apprenticeships so that they meet employers' needs and give young people high quality on the job training. This new common-sense guidance will help construction companies deliver training and apprenticeships even when there may not be sufficient time to complete them in one project."
David Way, executive director of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: "The National Apprenticeship Service is not only committed to increasing the number and range of Apprenticeships on offer, but also to ensuring high-quality apprenticeships, which is so key to growth.,Guidance such as this document is essential to ensure we can drive up the number of high-quality apprenticeships available, and support businesses to grow their own talent."
Brandon Lewis, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities & Local Government, said: "This is an excellent document which gives clear and sensible advice to councils who are looking to do the right thing by their young people. When councils are smart about procurement, they can use apprenticeships to offer a fantastic opportunity for young people, helping them to develop the skills they need and get the economy going again."