Research now shows that there are fewer and fewer construction and trade apprenticeships, despite the overall increase of available positions. Studies revealed that construction and trade positions are declining, as they currently only make up a mere 7% of apprenticeships as a whole, when in 2006, this was 12%.

While the number of total apprenticeships has increased by 57% in the last five years, only two construction and trade focused apprenticeships rank in the top ten. Construction skills were hanging low at 9th and industrial applications even lower at 10th. This is vastly different to 2006 when construction skills apprenticeships topped the table, with more than 20,000 apprenticeships undertaken in this field.

Additional analysis suggests that the overall number of qualifications awarded between 2013 and 2014 fell by 14%. In other words, this drops the number of awards given out from 5,443,000 to 4,684,000.

The number of NVQs/SVQs achieved in the UK has decreased sharply over the last four years from 1.0 million in 2009 to 44,000 in 2013. Alongside that, Qualifications in Construction, Planning, and the Built Environment made up only 5% of all qualifications in 2013.

Many involved in the trade have commented and said that construction and trade-based skills are vital to the UK economy. Because of course, it’s tradespeople who save the public from faulty boilers, build homes, and help improve roads.

Apprenticeships are important for budding builders, plumbers and electricians to get into the workplace. With less people going for apprenticeships, there is a massive risk of a skills gap forming, which will affect businesses and consumers alike.

However, it’s not all bad news. There has been an introduction of a new £3 billion apprenticeship levy in the Government’s Autumn Statement. Not only that, but a promise of three million new apprenticeships across the UK. Many are hoping these positive changes will make it easier for SMEs to gain access to skilled young workers.

There also has to be a change of attitude, and a form of enlightenment needs to take place. As a poll suggested that young people don’t want to apply for apprenticeships, because they feel there is more focus in the UK on securing an academic qualification. Over half (53%) admitted to dismissing the trade industry in pursuit of a more academic career path. Other reasons included a reluctance to work evenings and weekends (16%). There was also a belief that the starting salary of a tradesperson is too low.

There’s no time to like the present to start shining some light on the situation. The benefits and training opportunities for trade apprenticeships include:

  • Working alongside experienced staff and learning on the job while being paid.
  • Your skills and confidence will develop immensely due to the environment you’ll be working in.
  • You will experience what it’s like to earn a wage and get holiday pay.
  • You can choose different levels of apprenticeships depending on how far you want to go.