A one million pound fund has been cleared to help construction companies take on apprentices who have lost their placements because of the recession.
ConstructionSkills, the UK’s Sector Skills Council for construction, has confirmed extra funding from the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) of a maximum of £1,000 for companies taking on laid-off apprentices who are close to the end of their framework.
This will come on top of the funding given to employers registered with CITB-ConstructionSkills, which may be available through the grant scheme.
Nigel Donohue, apprenticeship programme manager for ConstructionSkills, said the extra funding will act as an incentive for even more employers to support the ConstructionSkills Apprenticeship Matching Service (AMS), which helps employers hold on to their apprentices. The service also matches displaced apprentices with new employers when they have no other option.
"Our Apprenticeship Matching Service has been a huge step forward for the industry, helping to retain as many of the next generation of workers as possible. We have also been talking to Government in recent months about the need to support employers in our industry through this difficult time and the funding from the National Apprenticeship Service will do just that: £1,000 for each apprentice adopted through the AMS will make the proposition a lot more viable for many employers," said Mr Donohue.
Nearly a third of the 2,408 displaced apprentices signed up to AMS in England, Scotland and Wales have already been re-employed.
Mr Donohue continued: "It is absolutely imperative that we do all that is possible to retain the talent within the industry, in a concerted and co-ordinated effort, to try and prevent a skills shortage. At ConstructionSkills, we are successful in placing thousands of apprentices with construction companies every year throughout the UK, so it would be a real shame if these apprentices, especially those who are so close to the finish line, were lost to the industry."
Simon Waugh, chief executive of the NAS, said: "It is well documented that apprentices are good for your bottom line. In today’s challenging times, and particularly as we prepare for the upturn, apprenticeships are a vital way of improving the skills of staff and generating a committed and valuable workforce. This is why we are working with the industry to provide immediate financial support to ensure construction employers can keep taking on apprentices."
Minister for Further Education, Skills, Apprenticeships and Consumer Affairs Kevin Brennan added: "This is a welcome development which should help hundreds of apprentices to complete their training. As well as the support offered by ConstructionSkills, the National Apprenticeship Service is working hard with other colleges and training providers to ensure as many construction apprentices as possible can finish their apprenticeship. We have also introduced new flexibilities to support apprentices whose jobs are at risk, such as allowing apprentices to complete some of their training at a college where possible, and claim EMA or other financial support to tide them over until they find a new employer."
The new fund is available for those in the last 12 months of their apprenticeship, and ConstructionSkills expects 800 extra trainees across the UK are set to benefit from the move.
(Pictured: Nigel Donohue, apprenticeship programme manager for ConstructionSkills)