Sunak Cuts Red Tape to Support Construction Skills Gap  

Sunak Cuts Red Tape to Support Construction Skills Gap  

FOLLOWING the announcement that the Prime Minister has pledged £60m of funding for next year to boost apprenticeships, Lee Parkinson, chief executive at Efficiency North, the holding group for flexi-job apprenticeship service EN:Able Futures, shares his thoughts on what this means for the construction sector.  

Lee said: “We welcome the announcement that apprenticeships are getting not only the financial boost they need, but the attention in the media and wider government. As a flexi-job apprenticeship provider, we are passionate about supporting the construction skills gap.  

“The latest government data shows that 24,530 new apprentices were taken on in the construction sector between 2022-23, down from the 26,060 recorded the previous year (2021-22). This decrease could be attributed to the sheer amount of red tape businesses need to navigate in order to take on an apprentice, which is even harder, if not impossible for SMEs, coupled with the expense.  

“From April 1, the government will fully fund apprenticeships in small businesses, compared to organisations previously being required to fund the training aspect, a move which is expected to see an increase of 20,000 apprenticeships across all industries. Having supported many construction SMEs in hosting an apprentice, cost is a huge factor, particularly in the current challenging economic climate, so we hope to see this make a big impact.  

“Making a variety of routes to the industry viable and attractive to people is essential to tackling the skills gap, in addition to showcasing the range of options available to employers looking to future-proof their workforce.  

“However, the news today is only impacting those up to 21 years old. While many apprentices fall into this age category, there are a lot of others we don’t want to discourage from a career in construction by introducing upper age limits of 21. At any age you can train or retain to become an asset to the industry, so we’d like to see more inclusive opportunities go a step further. 

“Furthermore, the government might consider simplifying Digital Apprenticeship Service accounts to aid the uptake of apprenticeships by SME and bolder steps are needed to fund in part or in full some apprenticeships for SMEs, which would certainly catalyze their uptake. 

“That being said, this is a fantastic start that includes other benefits such as those who are paying the apprenticeship levy being able to share up to 50% of their funds, an increase of 25%. Equally important is the requirement for reporting to be simplified, supporting SMEs in removing those barriers. Overall, it’s a positive move and one that will further our work as a flexi-job apprenticeship provider helping more host businesses and apprentices. We’re looking forward to seeing the impact.” 

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