There’s a well-known skills shortage within the UK construction industry. The issue has been prevalent over the last few years, with the apprenticeship scheme touted as a potential solution for sourcing homegrown talent into the construction sector.

But has the construction sector made the most of the apprenticeship scheme in order the deal with the skills shortage? Nifty Lift, suppliers of work platforms investigate:

The gender gap in apprenticeships

While the government continues to create apprenticeships, there have been concerns over the disproportionate number of males being offered apprenticeship roles in better-paid industries compared to female candidates. According to a report by the Guardian, only 5 per cent of apprentices heading into the construction, planning and the built environment were female, but 94 per cent of apprentices starting in the child development and well-being sector were women.

Arguably then, women could simply be applying to more child development roles than in construction. But if this is the case, is there an issue a step prior to applying for an apprenticeship?

A lack of encouragement

Beyond encouraging more women to look into classically-male associated roles such as construction work, it seems that schools could be doing more to encourage more apprentices in general. The Express and Star pointed out that many schools are falling foul of giving more support to students who are looking towards academic paths rather than apprenticeship routes. Many pupils noted that for those who expressed a desire to seek an alternative route than university, they were often left to figure out how to apply for apprenticeships on their own.

There is certainly scope not only to restructure the outdated view of construction being a ‘male job’, but also for apprenticeships as a whole being supported with useful information and guides at a school level. Taking an apprenticeship should not be treated as the lesser of two options, and instead, be held as valuable and as viable an option as university.

Problems with the levy

When the UK government announced a plan to create 3 million apprenticeship places by 2020, a levy was introduced to fund this. The levy requires businesses in England who have an annual pay bill over £3 million to pay 0.5 per cent for the levy. Businesses who do not pay the levy receive 100 per cent of training costs covered for apprenticeships offered to 16 to 18-year olds. For those aged over 19, 90 per cent of the costs are covered. Plus, for businesses with less than 50 employees who don’t pay the levy, there’s a £1,000 incentive scheme for taking on a 16 to 18-year old apprentice.

However, according to Contractor UK, the levy hasn’t been wholly successful. One report claimed that although levy-paying businesses had put £1.39 billion into the levy in total, only £108million had been drawn through to the apprenticeship scheme. Plus, the number of new apprentices in the first quarter of the levy’s introduction was actually lower overall — on top of this, more than 80 per cent of levy-paying firms had not taken on an apprentice.

The levy may be appealing for smaller businesses, but a certain flexibility and overall review of the process is needed in order to boost the number of apprentices getting places at the larger, levy-paying firms.

The skills gap is, however, closing

There is some positive news in the world of apprenticeships though. The problematic skill gap that has plagued the construction industry is, slowly, closing.

With upskilling and training now taking a priority, apprentices are finding that there are more resources available to them once they find a placement. The levy may not be producing the rapid result companies were hoping for, but it does seem to be aiding in closing the skills gap — potentially, a review and amended levy could push this further.

While there has been progress in regards to apprenticeships in the construction sector, the issue is still very much an ongoing one.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page