construction company Seddon is calling for radical changes to the way that new
construction apprentices are trained.
company believes that while the industry bemoans the skills shortage, thousands
of youngsters are currently ‘stagnating’ on further education college courses
which may ultimately leave them without the skills needed to work in the
its latest apprentice recruitment round, Seddon received 870 applications for
the 70 apprenticeships it expects to create over the next 12 months. Nearly
half – around 45 per cent - of these were from students who have already studied
for a college diploma or who are currently on a college course. But the
company’s experience is that many students are not ready to work in the
industry at the end of their course.
– which doesn’t believe the Richards Review proposals for changing the
apprenticeship system will work for the construction sector – has come up with
its own potential solution.
company wants to work more closely with colleges by providing paid work
placements for students which would enable them to develop the industry
experience needed to be ‘job-ready’. However, the colleges it has already approached
with the idea do not feel this would benefit them as it would affect their
Hodkinson, director of business services for Seddon, says: "We are not unhappy that the colleges should
get money for training people. But for us, the issue is that if we take someone
on from a college course, they are not ‘job-ready’. It’s not a question of
someone joining us and finishing their training on site – we are effectively
having to start from scratch with them.
alternative would be to actually start funding the industry for training, not
just the colleges. Our solution was to speak to a number of colleges offering
to provide paid work placements which would allow students to work towards
gaining NVQ qualifications, something which colleges do not deliver as part of
the Construction Diploma qualification.
us, the young person being trained should be the number one priority. At a time
when the industry is shouting about a skills shortage, thousands of young people
on college courses are stagnating and are not ready to get jobs. We would be
interested in knowing how many finish their college course and then go on to
work in the industry. This is something that the colleges can’t – or won’t –
tell us. Yet it’s the industry that will be on the backfoot, not the colleges,
if the current situation continues.
danger is that if this recession ends, say in 2015, we will not have the people
in place needed to cope with the upturn. At the same time, the CITB has
highlighted the potential skills ‘time bomb’ created by the fact that almost
one in five construction workers is set to retire over the next five to 10
doubts that the Richards Review proposals currently out to consultation, which
include plans for employers to receive direct funding for apprentice training,
will work for construction. "Given that we already have the levy and grant system,
how would a separate funding arrangement work?” asks Nicola Hodkinson, "and if
employers do become directly funded for training in the way proposed, it also
raises the question of how that training will be regulated.”