Housebuilder tips apprenticeships to have greater appeal post-Covid


A survey of over 1,000 young people has found that 42% are more likely to consider an apprenticeship in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The findings come as part of housebuilder Redrow’s annual report on attitudes towards apprenticeships and careers in construction.

Now in its fifth year, the report analyses the barriers to entry level recruitment into the construction and housebuilding sectors. This year, the survey also investigated the impact of the ongoing pandemic on the plans of young people – with 36% saying they have been concerned about their job prospects since the onset of Covid-19 in March 2020.

The research also found that more than a third (37%) of young people surveyed say that Covid-19 has decreased the likelihood of them choosing to study at university in the future, with 42% saying they are more likely to pursue on the job learning such as an apprenticeship.

However, the proportion of young adults who have had information on apprenticeships outlined to them via school dropped from 63% in 2018 to 57% this year (2021). Redrow attributes the four-year low to less time spent in school due to the pandemic.

Further to this is only 33% of female respondents having discussed construction careers at school, compared to 46% of males.

Redrow said that lockdown has provided a unique opportunity for many parents and older children to reconnect and evaluate priorities.

However, the firm added that their research shows that preconceived notions about careers in construction are still held among a ‘significant’ number of parents – with almost one in five (17%) believing that a career in construction does not require any qualifications beyond GCSEs. Further to this is one in ten (11%) saying that they would actively discourage their child from pursuing a career in construction.

Despite this, 69% of parents said that they have discussed the prospect of an apprenticeship with their child. However, when broken down, only 52% of respondents in Scotland said they have had such a discussion – compared to the 77% in London and 70% in Wales.

Karen Jones, HR director at Redrow, commented, “The past 12 months have seen the nation rocked by the Coronavirus pandemic, and the shockwaves are still being felt. Unemployment has reached its highest level in five years and six out of 10 employers stopped all new apprenticeships with immediate effect in April 2020. As a result, apprenticeships starts are down 18% on the year before.

“But as success from the vaccine rollout and lockdown restrictions clear the way for a roadmap for a gradual re-opening of UK PLC, businesses can now start thinking about a positive and productive future. It is vital that young people can play a vital part in ‘building back better’, and apprenticeships will be critical in tackling the skills gap and helping power the UK’s economic recovery, as well as delivering much-needed homes and infrastructure.

“Educational routes that combine learning and earning will have an even greater appeal following this long period of social distancing we’ve experienced, and a more competitive jobs market. We believe that today’s changing landscape offers a real opportunity to innovate the way that in which we attract young people into apprenticeships. To help elevate apprenticeships as an option for young people, we must first address the more negative attitudes held by some teachers and parents, while highlighting the benefits to young people nationwide.”

As a result of the findings, Redrow has recommended the following to drive increasingly positive perceptions of apprenticeships and careers in construction:

  1. Expand the apprenticeship levy to allow larger firms to transfer more of their levy bill, and expand what the levy funds can be used for
  2. Introduce a living wage for apprenticeships which is calculated according to what employees and their families need to live, and that is reflective of the of part of the UK in which they live
  3. Make careers advice digital to help motivate and inspire students, which most of their time is spent online