The recent announcement regarding changes to the Apprenticeship Levy is welcome news for the construction sector, particularly as it struggles with its biggest skills crisis in almost 20 years.
Following the recession, the sector lost around 324,000 skilled workers, and currently there are not enough people entering the profession to meet existing work requirements - or to replace the number of workers soon to hit retirement age. As a result, pressure is mounting on the industry to take immediate action to attract fresh, new talent to bridge the gap.
Creating more training and apprenticeship opportunities is an effective way of appealing to young people and upskilling them in the areas most in need of additional workers. Therefore, the amended Apprenticeship Levy is a huge step forward for the construction sector, as it will help to generate more opportunities for young people to learn a valuable new trade and progress their careers.
One of the main issues the sector had with the original Levy was that smaller companies would miss out on government support towards meeting the costs of apprenticeship training, as they were not eligible to pay the Levy. However, the announced changes mean that small companies will receive increased funding, which should encourage more firms to take on young apprentices, giving them the chance to receive hands-on, work-based experience.
Given the severity of the construction skills shortage, employers have a responsibility to train the next generation of workers to ensure they have the skills to drive forward growth in the future.
Wayne Lysaght-Mason, managing director at IronmongeryDirect.