How can construction companies use apprenticeships to ensure they do not fall behind and struggle with the need for fresh talent?
The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has announced that an extra 224,900 workers will be needed to meet UK construction demand between now and 2027. That amounts to a mass of 44,980 extra workers each year.
As a response, the CITB is investing in apprenticeships, launching a range of targeted initiatives and working collaboratively with industry to help the construction sector have a skilled, competent and inclusive workforce.
According to a recent study by the Education and Skills Funding Agency, 80% of employers reported that their retention rates improved as a result of hiring apprentices, making it an effective way to hold on to talent during a tough market.
Offering degree apprenticeships for employees is a great option for retraining and upskilling while ensuring commercial benefit for employers.
By partnering with higher education institutions and offering apprenticeships, businesses can upskill employees and keep talent in-house, while ensuring their teams have the skillset that is in line with the demands of the current economy, technological developments and the market.
This not only helps with the ageing workforce – a growing concern for the industry – but also with diversity.
According to research from executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, more than 40% of the CEOs of Fortune 100 companies have MBAs, and more than half studied business, economics or accounting as undergraduates.
This highlights that gaining the right academic credentials can sometimes be the key to getting an executive-level role.
Degree apprenticeships offer a route into higher education and a better chance of working up the career ladder for those from disadvantaged backgrounds; this, in turn, helps businesses to level their diversity goals.
Even for those who do have the means to fund higher education to advance their careers, the applied work-based learning approach of an apprenticeship is proven to bring greater benefit to both the learner and their employer than a purely academic programme.
Making degree apprenticeships work
In order to ensure high success rates, here are my top tips for making degree apprenticeships work so your business can close its talent shortage:
- Have a dedicated learning and development officer Having a dedicated team member who can support apprentices and promote courses through recruitment is important. This makes sure that current learners are looked after and that your business has the right learners on the right courses.
- Locate the right employees Your apprentice should know what they want to achieve personally and professionally, and how this fits with the overall departmental or organisational goals. Speak to employees, host information sessions to find out who would be the right fit and speak to line managers to locate ideal apprentices.
- Practical application Review the learning programme and identify opportunities for your apprentice to apply their learning to add value in the workplace. This helps the apprentice convert workplace experiences into learning opportunities and learning experiences into business value.
- Support with off-the-job training The government requires employers to provide apprentices with a minimum of six protected hours per week of off-the-job training. Time away from day-to-day work enables apprentices to absorb fresh knowledge, consider new ideas and experiment with innovative ways of doing things. Helping to schedule off-the-job training demonstrates your support and eases the learner’s stress.
- Offer development support Take an active role in the regular progress reviews of your apprentice by preparing for, attending and providing support towards the implementation of the action points from these reviews. Businesses should also encourage apprentices to talk to senior stakeholders to make sure their learning is promoting business needs while boosting their confidence to be a potential future leader.
Stacey Allen-Hayes is director of corporate partnerships at Arden University.