Apprenticeship boost amid skills shortage fear

An increase in construction apprenticeships suggests the sector is anticipating a skills shortage, an industry analyst has said.

Tom Crane, an economist at Glenigan, told Construction Manager: “The increased numbers of apprenticeships may not solve the skills shortage in the short-term, this will be solved by people coming back from other industries abroad.

“However, the statistics suggest that the industry is starting to invest more in the future.”

He added: “At the moment I think that the fear of the skills shortage is greater than the actual shortage in labour on the ground. The awareness that has been created may be encouraging companies to plan ahead.

“If we were to have another year with growth of four to five per cent then we would have issues, but growth of two to three per cent the industry should be able to handle.”

The number of apprenticeships in England has risen for the second year in a row to 17,820. It compares to 15,890 in 2013-2014.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) also records a record high of 872,000 people employed on government-funded apprenticeships during 2014-15.

Full employment in the industry has grown too, but more modestly. Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest a rise of 0.5 per cent over the past year.

Adam Davis, a Palmers partner who specialises in construction matters, said: “The distinction between an anticipated skills shortage and the reality on the ground is interesting. It points not to panic but sensible plans for the future – the exact kind of mind-set we bring to our services at Palmers. Our industry experts appreciate the stakes of each project, the areas in which things can go awry but also the very real commercial benefits. To find out more about what we do, please contact us.”