The Apprenticeship Levy is exacerbating the construction skills shortage and must be reformed urgently, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
The latest statistics released by the Department for Education show that the number of new construction apprenticeship starts for January 2019 has fallen to 950 compared with 1,216 the previous year. In particular, the number of starts for Level 2 apprenticeships, that is equivalent to GCSE level, has dropped to 555 in January 2019, down from 712 in January 2018.
Brian Berry, chief executive at the FMB, said: “These latest statistics point to a serious failure of the Government’s Apprenticeship Levy. Their publication comes at a time when 64% of construction firms are already struggling to hire carpenters and joiners, and 61% are struggling to hire bricklayers. The Government needs to make the Apprenticeship Levy work for small construction firms by increasing the proportion of Apprenticeship Levy vouchers that are permitted to be passed down the supply chain from large to small companies from 25% to 100%. After all, small and medium-sized construction firms train two-thirds of all apprentices in our sector and more importantly, they offer training in the skills the industry actually needs – the onsite trades like plasterers and plumbers.”