Apprenticeships Are Key to Solving a Post Brexit Construction Crisis

The UK construction sector could be heading for a major skills crisis in the wake of Brexit, but Walsall College is warning firms to take action now to future proof their workforce and safeguard the UK industry.

According to a recent report by business consultants, Arcadis, there are more than 200,000 construction workers currently working in the UK from EU countries.* While the impact of Brexit still remains unclear, the skills gap in the sector is already at an all-time high, following the government’s announcement last year that it needs to build one million new homes before 2020 to meet the growing demand for housing in the UK.

Walsall College strongly believes that apprenticeships could be a key driver in helping to bridge this widening skills gap after the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

James Norris, Assistant Principal for Commercial Development at Walsall College, commented: “Apprenticeships are a fantastic way for businesses to develop new talent and pass their knowledge on to the next generation of workers. They allow new recruits to gain job specific skills whilst working alongside more experienced staff.

“Providing trainees with the right skills will enable the construction sector to reduce this gap with a motivated and qualified workforce.”

Working with over 500 employers to support their business objectives and with success rates that have been significantly higher than the national average for the last three years, Walsall College is one of the biggest providers of apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds in the West Midlands.

James added: “Our employer partners get real value from apprenticeships, from increased productivity to better retention. They also see them as vital to creating the skilled workers they need for the future.”

Walsall College currently offers over 40 apprenticeship frameworks and has more than 1000 apprentices enrolled on its programmes from level 2 (equivalent to GCSE) to level 5 (equivalent to HND) in addition to a traineeship offer. Construction frameworks available include Brickwork, Carpentry, Painting and Decorating, Plumbing and Heating, Plastering, Electrical Installation and Construction Management.

From April 2017, large employers from both the private and public sectors will have to pay in to the government’s new Apprenticeship Levy, which is a mandatory tax that will apply to companies with a UK payroll bill over £3m per annum. In addition, small and medium sized businesses will be able to claim a Government allowance of £15,000 per annum for apprenticeship training, regardless of whether they are required to pay in to the levy.

To find out more about how you can get the most out of the Apprenticeship Levy and take on apprentices, contact Walsall College’s Business Training Solutions Team on 01922 651129 or email businesstrainingsolutions@walsallcollege.ac.uk

* Brexit – Making the most of uncertainty: Arcadis whitepaper, June 2016

About Association of Colleges West Midlands

AoC West Midlands promotes and supports the interests of 38 general further education, sixth form and specialist colleges throughout the West Midlands region. The West Midlands is a diverse region and our colleges reflect this diversity. From small specialist colleges in rural locations to large inner city establishments, colleges reflect the needs of their local environment. Working closely with employers, learners and the local community, our 38 member colleges offer a broad range of flexible learning opportunities for individuals at all levels. They aim to give local people the skills they need for success and prosperity, tackling barriers to learning and providing opportunities that meet the needs of individuals and employers
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