A shortage of bricklayers must be addressed by an increase in the number of construction apprenticeships, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
Commenting on a study by Manpower, Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said, “This research is a timely reminder that government must put the right framework in place to encourage construction employers to train more apprentices. Our recent Q3 2014 State of Trade Survey shows that 41% of SME construction firms are struggling to hire bricklayers and this is up from 34% three months earlier. If skills shortages continue to increase at the same rate, it could undermine the surge in private house building.
“To make matters worse, we are still unsure what action government is taking in terms of its apprenticeship funding reforms – an issue which has been rumbling on for more than two years. If the recently appointed Skills Minister Nick Boles implements the apprenticeship funding reforms as proposed, they will greatly detract from the ability and desire of small firms to train apprentices. As two-thirds of all construction apprentices are trained by micro-businesses – the very smallest of firms – this is very worrying indeed.
“The construction and house building industries are emerging from the deepest and longest recession we have ever faced but increasing workloads mean little if we don’t have enough skilled workers to carry out these new projects. Government must therefore make sure employers have every reason to increase the number of apprenticeship places they are offering or the construction industry, and the wider economy, will begin to flounder.”