Leeds property news: Red tape blamed for apprentice shortfall

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A third of small construction firms are being put off from taking on apprentices because of unnecessary bureaucracy, according to new research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The construction industry is in the midst of a skills crisis which can only be solved if more employers take on apprentices. The Government wants to deliver 3m apprentices over the next five years and this new report sheds some light on how this can be achieved. Our research shows 94 per cent of small firms want to train apprentices but a third are being turned off by a number of serious “fear factors”. These include the cost of employing and training an apprentice and major concerns regarding the complexity of the process.

“There is evidence to show small construction firms need better information and if they were more aware of the support that’s available, a great number would train apprentices. Just under 80 per cent of non-recruiters are not aware of one of the most important apprenticeship grants available to them and just over 75 per cent say knowledge of financial support would make them more likely to take on apprentices.”

Berry concluded: “Given two-thirds of all construction apprentices are trained by SMEs, it is critical the Government removes any barriers that might be stopping these companies from training. The Government’s new apprenticeship voucher could be a disaster for small firms unless it is properly road tested and made as simple and easy to use.”