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A Crisis in Construction: The Trades Face a Massive Shortage of Workers

There has been another major blow to the construction industry after a ‘disastrous’ fall in number of young builders has been revealed. Just a week or two before the Prime Minister pledged that the Conservative Party would build 1m new homes during its four years in power, new figures revealed that the number of completed apprenticeships in construction has fallen nearly 40% in the past five years.

Labour’s education chief Bridget Philllipson blasted the “disastrous” decline. She also vowed to deliver “the next generation of brickies” if her party gets into power. But ministers hit back, saying they had to ditch lots of low-quality apprenticeships inherited from Labour. Education Minister Robert Halfon said he is doing everything to raising standards and getting more people training for the construction industry.

Department for Education stats showed that the completed apprenticeships in England fell from 12,420 in 2018 to 7,700 in 2022. Phillipson said: “This disastrous fall is bad for young people aspiring to great careers in the building trade, bad for people who want to get on the housing ladder and bad for our country. Builders are the backbone of our country and without good recruits, we won’t see new houses built.”

Clive Holland, a broadcaster on Fix Radio - a national radio station dedicated to tradespeople – tells us the impact he believes this will have on the construction industry in the UK. He says: “A Construction Skills Network report found that 53,000 extra recruits were needed each year over the next four years to meet projected UK construction demand.

“As of 2017, the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced across the UK which is a form of taxation designed to help companies offer more apprenticeships, yet data by the London Assembly Economy Committee (LAEC) showed that 18% fewer people began construction apprenticeships in London in 2020/21 than in 2017/18. 

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