Calls for Work Placement Programmes in the Construction Industry

Calls for Work Placement Programmes in the Construction Industry

19th October 2015

Last week we highlighted the unwelcome news that the construction industry saw output decrease by 4.3% in August 2015 compared to July 2015.  According to key players in the construction industry the main reason for this is a severe skills shortage that’s resulting in construction in the UK decreasing rather than expanding.  Without the necessary training, skills and flexibility necessary to keep up with demand, any commitment by politicians to invest in infrastructure is likely to fall flat on its face.

According to a poll of leading figures from both business and education, work experience is a crucial factor if we want to end the skills gap.  The survey was carried out by the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) and the majority of respondents said that they believe that work placement schemes should be available to all schoolchildren under the age of 16.  However, a third of companies do not have work placement schemes on offer, though most claim that they would if they had more information on this subject.

The survey involved 3.500 leaders from businesses, schools, colleges and universities and a massive 79% of business leaders believe that work experience is vital for providing young people with the skills they need to develop successful and rewarding careers in whichever industries they choose.  

Director or the BCC, John Longworth, claims that work experience plays a vital role in driving down youth unemployment levels – a major problem in modern Britain.  He’s said that according to both business leaders and school leaders “we won’t bridge the gap between the world of education and the world of work unless young people spend time in workplaces while still at school”.  He goes on to say that work experience will help to close the skills gap that’s being reported by frustrated businesses across Britain.  Businesses apparently have a huge problem in filling vacancies at every level.  

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), as part of its mission statement, aims to ensure that construction companies have a highly skilled workforce and that the industry has the skills necessary to meet its clients’ requirements and future challenges.  The CITB has collaborated with industry to launch the Go Construct project, a website that explores construction roles so that youngsters can find out more about a career in construction.  

In order to enable youngsters to “try before they buy”, the CITB provides an Experience Construction programme so that kids can find out for themselves what a career in construction is likely to entail.  The Programme aims to help youngsters make the right choice (whether that’s to stay in the construction industry or to move to another industry) before they fill an apprenticeship place.  Kids get the opportunity to see if they like the industry before making that crucial decision – the success of the scheme is borne out by the drop out figures ((2% for those who’ve undertaken Experience Construction, compared with 8% for those who have not).  The Experience Construction Placement programme is also designed to help employer make the right recruitment decisions for their companies.

The compulsory work experience programme was abolished by the coalition government in 2012 and participants in the BCC poll believe that ministers should recognise the importance of work experience in giving youngsters a taste of working life.  Calls are being made for both big businesses and SMEs in the construction industry to offer work placement programmes.