13th March 2018
Today Chancellor Philip Hammond announced at this year’s Spring Statementthat the education secretary will release up to £80m to help small firms take on apprentices and that £29 million will be allocated to a construction skills fund, which will open for bids to fund up to 20 construction skills villages.
Commenting on these announcements, Karen Jones, Group HR Director at Redrow, said: “Apprenticeships are a way of future proofing the UK workforce, particularly in sectors where there is a considerable skills shortage such as construction. More needs to be done to incentivise employers to open up the apprenticeship route to young people, particularly given the fall in apprenticeship numbers seen over recent months since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy. However, it is positive to see that the Government has recognised the need to address the uptake of apprenticeships by giving smaller employers greater funding. It is also important that the Government looks into the Apprenticeship Premium proposed by the Learning & Work Institute. This premium calls for increased funding for business to employ apprentices from disadvantaged backgrounds which we support and called for in our recent report on the subject of apprenticeships. We believe this is crucial as it will help to increase the UK’s workforce by unearthing talent in areas not previously explored.
Karen Jones, added: “The Government’s intention to allocate £29 million into a construction skills fund, one that supports the creation of skills villages, is to be applauded. The skills gap remains one of the biggest issues affecting the UK, particularly with Brexit around the corner so it is important to upskill the UK’s labour pool with the necessary tools it needs to grow and prosper. As an example, our recent apprenticeships research discovered that many apprentices struggle to achieve at least a C grade at GCSE maths and English which is taught as part of an apprenticeship programme, leading to a high number of apprentices who fail to complete their qualification. The Government must ensure that subjects are taught in a way that is engaging and relevant to an apprentice’s role. This approach would equip individuals with applied skills rather than theoretical ones, benefitting both individual progression and the UK economy for the long-term.”