The construction conundrum: How apprenticeships can bridge the skills gap

The UK’s construction sector is one of the country’s leading economic drivers; however, in recent years skills shortages are becoming an increasing concern for many construction companies. Research carried out by recruitment specialist, Search Consultancy, has found that 83 per cent of construction businesses feel the strain from the lack of skilled workers. Whilst the number of job opportunities in construction is rising, the number of suitable candidates is not. A report from the Construction Skills Network has estimated that the built environment requires an additional 266,000 workers to meet projected construction demands in the UK over the next four years.

So why is there a skills shortage in construction?

The skills shortage in the construction sector is due to a combination of factors such as an ageing workforce and the impacts of Brexit and economic uncertainty. The construction workforce in the UK is ageing, with over 20 per cent of tradespeople over fifty and 15 per cent in their sixties. As these workers retire, fewer young people are entering the industry to replace them, which means that there is a need to educate young people on the opportunities and career paths available in construction to encourage them to enter the industry.

What are the effects of skills shortages in the construction industry?

One of the main risks that many construction organisations face with skills shortages is an inability to fulfil projects due to the lack of suitable, qualified candidates. Not only does this impact profit, but it also has a big impact on a construction company’s reputation. The Open University Business Barometer states that in 2020, short-term gaps cost UK construction companies an additional £2.2 billion compared to 2019. Furthermore, difficulties in sourcing staff may also lead to increased recruitment costs as businesses may find themselves overpaying to secure skills that are limited.

How can apprenticeships help to bridge the skills gap?

Apprenticeships are a key element in reducing the skills shortage within the construction sector in the UK. Research by The Open University shows that 48 per cent of employers felt that apprenticeships are vital in closing the construction skills gap. Construction apprenticeships help to attract a new workforce by providing an accessible starting point for young people to enter the industry. They offer the benefit of earning a salary whilst gaining hands-on experience and learning the industry-recognised skills employers want. Not only do apprenticeships help to encourage younger people to enter the industry, they can also help construction companies to retain their staff by providing them with the opportunity to upskill and progress the existing high-quality workforce. Construction companies that invest in training and development can create a diverse and sustainable workforce, leading to better staff morale and improved productivity and quality.

How NOCN can support you with Apprenticeship End Point Assessment

NOCN is a leading Independent End Point Assessment Organisation who have successfully been delivering End Point Assessments since 2017. Working with training providers and employers, NOCN ensures that all apprentices have the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for the new employer-led apprenticeship standards. NOCN currently delivers 26 End Point Assessments for a range of apprenticeship standards in the Construction sector, with five more to be launched in 2023; these include:

  • Lightning Protection Operative
  • Demolition Operative
  • Construction Support Technician
  • Advanced Carpentry and Joinery (new assessment plan)
  • Steel fixer (new assessment plan)

If you are interested in any of the construction End Point Assessments that NOCN offer or would like to find out more information, visit our website or email us via [email protected]

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