Founded in 1996, Hudson Contract, is the UK’s largest provider of professional workplace audit and contract services to the construction industry. David Jackson, Founder and Chairman, comments on the importance of Apprenticeships for the construction industry, how and why more firms should be supporting young talent, and the likely impact of the new Government Apprenticeship Levy.
“With a lifetime of working in construction, I remain passionate about championing our industry as a great place to work and doing everything I can to make it a profession of choice for young people today. We are all aware of the skills shortage in construction, making it even more vital that we, as an industry, take note and do our bit to help.
“The government’s increasing reliance on our industry to spearhead improvements in infrastructure should create demand for more skilled workers within the sector. Training, including Apprenticeships, will therefore play an important part to increase the number of skilled operatives in the sector.
“Apprenticeships are crucial to enticing new talent into the industry because they provide the perfect environment for people to kick-start their careers. The combination of practical guidance and on-the-job training from employers and the skills learned at college, give apprentices a solid foundation for working in the trades.
“Equally, there are many advantages for those construction firms who choose to nurture young talent in the industry. Taking on apprentices provides flexibility to the existing workforce, allows a company to develop new recruits to directly meet its own business’ needs, and can also introduce new skills and energy into the team.
“The Government’s new levy which is set to launch in April, will fund 3 million Apprenticeships by 2020. Firms which have a payroll of more than £3 million per year will contribute through their RTI HMRC submissions, and the money will be dished out to anyone who takes on an apprentice – levy payer or not – through the Skills Funding Agency. The introduction of the levy and training service will be very welcome, and will certainly make it easier for employers to build their workforce from the ground up. However, the levy alone will not be enough to combat the construction industry skills shortage.
“This is why we, at Hudson Contract, are also calling on firms across the country to establish an Apprentice Sponsorship Scheme like our own. We offer 12 months’ financial support to employers, in our local area, to help them take on an apprentice, paying 50 per cent of each apprentice’s wage for the first year of their training. The scheme is really simple – and it has to be, to ensure there’s plenty of take-up in an area where only a handful of construction firms have more than five employees.
“Over the past five years we have sponsored more than 80 apprentices. By way of investing in the future of the industry, we aim to support a further 20 apprentices over the coming year. We would really like to see other companies follow suit to help foster the skills our industry needs, across the electrical, plumbing, building and joinery trades.”