Scotland recently celebrated Apprenticeship week. Alan Burns, Divisions Manager for City Building, explains why the event serves as a reminder to the construction industry for the need to have a continued commitment to delivering structured apprenticeship schemes that will help address the emerging skills gap and identify future leaders.
There have been reports for some time of a skills gap in the construction industry where talents like bricklaying, steel-fixing and concreting are in short supply. One way of addressing this loss of skills is to encourage more young people to consider an apprenticeship as a career route.Quality Apprenticeships can help people progress and succeed and they can help businesses create the skilled workforce they need to compete in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
But while some employers have made investing in their workforces a key part of their business strategy during the economic slowdown others have been less than ambitious. As the construction industry shows signs of improvement following a prolonged downturn, now is the time to act.
When I began my career as an apprentice blacksmith in the early ’90s I was fortunate to have secured a position with City Building (formerly known as the Building Services Department of Glasgow City Council). The organisation recognised my potential and supported my development through my apprenticeship and beyond helping me gain an MBA in Resource Management and a LLM in Construction Law.
Apprenticeships are critical to business growth and development no matter what sector you belong to. They provide a continued pipeline of talent that will help secure the future of the business and inject new ideas and enthusiasm into the organisation. But more needs to be done to ensure that enough companies offer them.
Adopting a structured and continuous apprenticeship programme is a sustainable way of growing and retaining a highly skilled workforce. However, the development of apprenticeship programmes and securing future talents cannot be done independent of the wider business strategy. It must be part of a more structured approach ad be an integral part of future business plans.
By creating apprenticeship programmes that focus on workforce development through training initiatives, performance improvement programmes, educational engagement and sector engagement we can ensure people will see the long term benefits of a career in the construction industry which offers real career progression.
What is clear is that companies must broaden their outlook by developing more structured apprenticeships that match their needs with a clear strategy for identifying future talent. By doing this we will secure long term change which can bring about a major improvement in the skills within the industry.