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Welcome increase in Apprenticeship Numbers
By Ruth Baily
2014 has seen an increase of 45% in the numbers of people signing up for apprenticeships. This is welcome news. However while the numbers look good it has to be remembered that it is from a very low base. Over all there were 2,105 new apprenticeship registrations, an increase of 660 from 2013.
The construction industry is slowly coming out of the worst recession to hit the industry. The effect on employment in the industry has been enormous. This meant many people were reluctant to train for an industry where employment prospects were weak. Construction companies also stopped hiring, making it impossible for potential apprentices to begin learning their trade.
As a result we now find ourselves in a situation where there is a potential shortage of skilled workers.
Throughout the last number of years the numbers participating in apprenticeship programmes has been very low. In some trades there have been no apprentices at all. This is extremely worrying as it means in three and four years time there will be very low numbers of apprentices graduating to fill the gaps in employment.
While there are still a number of construction workers on the Live Register who would be able to fill the immediate vacancies as they occur. This stream of skilled workers will not be available long term. It is essential that we continue to train and skill new workers on ongoing basis.
The construction industry is a major driver of the economy and a large employer. Almost all employees throughout the industry are highly skilled. These skills are gained through rigorous training and apprenticeship programmes.
Many within the industry continue to train and up skill throughout their careers. An apprenticeship is the path to a career in a sector that offers real jobs and prospects in an industry that is always innovating and changing. We need to do more to encourage more people into apprenticeships to ensure we do not have skills gaps in the future.