New guidance has been launched by the Construction Minister Michael Fallon at the 2013 Construction Summit aimed at tackling unworkable apprenticeship conditions in some Local Authority construction contracts through the use of Shared Apprenticeship Services such as Futureworks (Yorkshire).
While many Local Authority contracts are very effective in promoting apprenticeships, the construction sector has reported difficulties with some local authorities requiring contractors to recruit apprentices from within their borough without consideration of whether a skills gap exists or if the project is long enough for the apprentices to complete their training.
The new guidance in the report entitled Working Together to Boost Local Construction Appreniceships Through Public Procurement encourages local authorities to enter into a dialogue with contractors to determine what will work in practice.
Typically this could include:
- making use of CITB Shared Apprenticeship Schemes and Apprenticeship Training Agencies (ATAs) to promote the movement of apprentices between projects where needed;
- an assessment of local skills gaps to ensure any contractual requirements address genuine local skills needs;
- co-operation with neighbouring boroughs to enable apprentices to be trained across a range of public projects;
- taking more account of the length of projects and the amount of work on a project for a particular trade when considering what requirements to include in a public contract;
- taking account of a contractor’s existing record on skills development and current number of apprentices;
- widening any requirements from just new entrant apprentices to apprentices part way through their training to enable apprentices that have completed one project to finish their training on another project.
The new guidance, “Working together to boost local construction Apprenticeships through public procurement”, was officially launched at the Government’s Construction Summit.
Speaking at the summit Construction Minister Michael Fallon, said:
“I fully support local authorities encouraging contractors to take on apprentices through public procurement but the requirements need to be workable.
“With the global construction market forecasted to grow by 70 per cent by 2025 we must make sure that our efforts do not hinder the UK sector and this guidance will help remove unworkable practice.”
Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said:
“We are reforming Apprenticeships so that they meet employers needs and give young people high quality on the job training.
“This new common sense guidance will help construction companies deliver training and Apprenticeships even when there may not be sufficient time to complete them in one project.”
The event, which took place at the Park Plaza Westminster gave construction industry employers the opportunity to hear from, meet and network with those who are responsible for shaping Government policies and major projects.
The guidance highlights key challenges to maximising those opportunities and suggests approaches to good practice in collaboration. Key sources of support are posted in the document which is available on www.apprenticeships.org.uk
The guidance has been developed by the National Apprenticeship Service, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Local Government Association, CITB and UKCG, and has support from the wider construction sector.
David Way, Executive Director, National Apprenticeship Service said:
“The National Apprenticeship Service is not only committed to increasing the number and range of Apprenticeships on offer, but also to ensuring high quality of Apprenticeships, which is so key to growth.
“Guidance such as this document is essential to ensure we can drive up the number of high quality Apprenticeships available, and support businesses to grow their own talent.”
The guidance is designed to encourage closer partnerships between construction firms and Local Authorities to maximise training and Apprenticeship opportunities.
Brandon Lewis, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, said:
“This is an excellent document which gives clear and sensible advice to councils who are looking to do the right thing by their young people. When councils are smart about procurement they can use apprenticeships to offer a fantastic opportunity for young people, helping them to develop the skills they need and get the economy going again.”