Thinking of Hiring a Construction Apprentice? Here’s What you Need to Know

Thinking of Hiring a Construction Apprentice? Here’s What you Need to Know

14th February 2019

If you’re a construction company owner or manager who’s thinking about hiring an apprentice, then you’re in good company.  We’ve reported on apprenticeships many times in recent years as we believe that the apprenticeship programme is playing a significant role in the future of our industry.  We’re all aware that the UK building industry is facing a challenging future as we approach Brexit, especially in light of the fact that there is no deal in sight and it looks increasingly likely that a hard Brexit is on the cards.  Without the skilled labour we’ve traditionally employed from overseas, finding enough workers with the necessary skills and expertise to play our part in ensuring that the government’s housing and infrastructure targets are met is predicted to be difficult. 

The construction industry itself has a long history of benefitting from hiring apprentices.  This was, for many years, one of the easiest routes into the building trade.  On leaving school (whether at the age of 14 or, later on, 16), ambitious youngsters followed their fathers, uncles and brothers into a career in construction, starting at the bottom and slowly working their way up to become skilled tradespeople.  This was an efficient and effective way of “learning the ropes” and compiling a “toolbox” full of skills and expertise that could be used to forge a great career in construction.

This career pathway became less popular as more kids were encouraged to stay on in school and benefit from a higher education that would provide them with the qualifications necessary to get an office job and avoid the hard physical work that previous generations relied on.  However, things have come full circle and, nowadays, a career in construction is considered a lucrative one, especially for those who have specific specialised skills, whether these are traditional skills that are in danger of being lost (such as thatching, cabinet making) or brand-new skills dependent upon the new technologies and materials developed in recent years (such as BIM, Virtual Reality and Machine Learning).  We now have an apprenticeship programme fit for 21st Century careers. 

We’ve already reported several times on the benefits of hiring an apprentice for construction companies, so today we’re going to take a closer look at the first steps to take if you’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon and take on an apprentice as part of your workforce. 

  • The first step is to register a vacancy online by completing a form on the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) website.  This does not commit you to hiring an apprentice and you may not have to be levy registered to do this.
  • A CITB Apprenticeship Officer will contact you to discuss your vacancy and offer guidance.
  • An Apprenticeship Officer can visit your company and provide you a list of suitable candidates to choose from.
  • The Apprenticeship Officer can also help you to arrange interviews if necessary. 
  • You can then offer a temporary placement to a candidate through the Experience Construction Programme and you’ll be entitled to £200 to help with the costs.
  • You don’t have to offer the candidate an apprenticeship if you think they are unsuited to your requirements. 
  • When you do decide to take on an apprentice, an Apprenticeship Officer will assist you with paperwork and ensure that the Health and Safety checks to meet the requirement of taking on an apprentice are in place. 

If your company is eligible for grants, the Apprenticeship Officer will provide you with information on how the funding (up to £10,000) for training will be paid.

Next week, we’ll have some handy tips for you on what to look for when interviewing prospective apprentices.  Follow us on Facebook or Twitter so you don’t miss out on this valuable information.