Find training courses on Training and

Redefining the construction industry to help with dwindling apprenticeship numbers

A recent analysis released by Direct Line for Business revealed that there has been a decline in the number of construction apprenticeships.

Safeera Sarjoo
16th February 2016
Share this article

This analysis is based during the year 2013/2014 compared to other years. Although the number of apprenticeships had increased over the last five years and stood at 434,630, only 30,370 were within the construction and trade sectors. That’s only 7%.

The analysis also found that only two construction and trade focused apprenticeships was ranked within the top ten compared to 2006 where the percentage of construction focused apprenticeships stood at 12%. These apprenticeships also ‘topped the table, with more than 20,000 apprenticeships undertaken in this field’ in 2006.

The fall in apprenticeship uptake suggests an industry that doesn’t currently excite young professionals. Bruce Boughton, People Development Manager at specialist housing provider Lovell shared his thoughts on these findings.

‘I’m not surprised that the number of construction and skills apprenticeships has fallen in recent years. Clearly that’s the impact of the recession, which affected the intake of people within the industry. Lovell was one of the companies that continued taking on apprentices all the way through the recession, which I think will help us grow as we come out of the recession,’ Boughton said.

For a long time the construction industry has been viewed as a male dominated sector. Whenever you cast your eye on a building site there’s a distinct lack of females on the front line. A Guardian article published in May 2015 revealed that women only make up 11% of the entire construction workforce, but even then the roles females were employed in were often behind a desk in design, management or secretarial roles.

These roles do play a hand in the running and functioning of the sector. But how refreshing would it be to see more women out on construction sites physically helping with a new housing development? I don’t know about you, but assembling items, whether its furniture or an elaborate BBQ grill gives me an insane amount of pride.

More than that though, the construction sector is absolutely crucial to the UK economy. The infrastructure produced by this sector impacts our day to day lives.  Our homes, roads, public spaces and sanitation rely heavily on good construction. There couldn’t be a better time to pursue a career in this industry given the ever evolving technology and collaborative efforts that results in innovative projects.

A 2015 Briefing Paper titled Construction Industry: statistics and policy stated that the construction sector accounted for 6.5% of the total economy in 2014. This translated to a total of £103bn, which is indicative of how important this sector is to our society.

So why are we letting something like perception allow good talent to slip away? Apprenticeships are essential to building a passionate and capable work force and as we’ve said before, issues plaguing the industry need to be properly addressed and solutions implemented.

Encouraging an uptake is one battle; creating a diverse workforce is another. One this is evident though – it’s going to take a lot of hard work.

‘For reasons not just down to the construction industry, we find our industry not as attractive to women in particular as it is to men. We need to be more proactive in tackling that. Obviously having more roles in the first place and expanding an industry that is recruiting quite heavily provides a platform where we can be more diverse and we can attract women and also ethnic minorities into our industry,’ Boughton explained.

Redefining the construction industry is the first step to changing perceptions. Showing children and prospective workers the achievements of women within the industry is an excellent way to inspire females into the industry. The Women in Construction Awards does just this by honouring women within the industry and celebrating their achievements. If we don’t make a big deal about these milestones then how are we suppose to inspire the next generation?

In the meantime though, Boughton is hopeful that there will be a change in the tide.

‘Apprenticeships have played a very important part in bringing new and particularly young people into the construction industry and I think that has to continue. I think the number of apprentices within construction will bounce back, we’ve already seen that. I would expect the number of apprentices that Lovell employ will double over the next five years or so and I wouldn’t be surprised across the industry overall that we’ll see numbers increasing quite rapidly.’


If you feel you could be best suited to a job within the construction industry, have a look at the array of courses we offer on Training and Courses.


Find a course

Most popular