With recent reports noting that the current UK construction industry skills shortage is the worst since 1998, Birmingham-based affordable housing and refurbishment specialist Lovell has taken on a host of new apprentices as it looks to continue its current success long into the future.
Over half of all construction companies are finding it hard to recruit the staff they need, with bricklayers and quantity surveyors in particularly short supply (according to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors). Lovell has recently taken on two new apprentice bricklayers and three work placement bricklayers, along with apprentice carpenters, maintenance operatives, business administrators and quantity surveyor, with a total of nine new apprentices and five work placements in the Midlands since September.
The last thing any construction company should do is cut back on apprenticeships, says Steve Davis, Regional Director of Lovell in the Midlands:
“Taking on apprentices is a delicate balancing act. Apprentices are undoubtedly expensive to begin with, as a company has to train them, support them and give them space to learn. However, these are not reasons to do without apprentices, they are reasons to make sure you manage the process well.
“Construction companies and allied trades have no cause to complain about skills shortages among the trades if they themselves are contributing to those shortages. Even during the recent tough times, we have continued to take on apprentices and we have given them the kind of training and support that maximises their chances of success – and therefore maximises our chances of being rewarded for our investment with an excellent new employee.
“Our challenge as an industry is persuading people to join – or re-join – the sector. Hundreds of thousands of construction and house-building jobs disappeared during the recession and we’re still building back up.”
Jake Beasley, 17, is an apprentice who works on Lovell’s Harvills Grange development in West Bromwich. Jake, who lives in Penn, Wolverhampton, has always had his eye on a career in construction:
“I’ve worked in the trade with my Dad since I was 14 and always enjoyed it but knew I needed to do an apprenticeship. The competition for an apprenticeship with Lovell is strong but my previous experience helped, and I was also able to show that I would be committed, loyal and hard-working. I’ve really enjoyed my first couple of months and I’ve had great support from my Site Manager while I’ve been learning my role in the team.”
Steve Davis concludes:
“Jake demonstrates the qualities we are looking for in our apprentices: enthusiasm, commitment and a desire to work hard and achieve his due rewards.
“We believe that by continuing to take on apprentices, we ensure Lovell has a steady flow of high-quality tradespeople and managers but also help to boost local employment and raise community aspirations.”