Research into construction apprenticeships reveals that perceptions of construction are improving but academic maths and English skills are a barrier to entry

Leading UK housebuilder Redrow’s second annual research report, Building better apprenticeships: Delivering skills to drive UK productivity, has discovered that the perception of construction as an apprenticeship pathway has improved with a 14 per cent increase (62 per cent) of young people considering a job in the sector this year.

Following on from its first apprenticeship report in 2017, Redrow again canvassed 2,000 parents and 15-21 year olds and 167 of its own apprentices and benchmarked the findings against last year’s responses. The results this year show an eight per cent increase in young women (24 per cent) considering a career in construction compared to just 16 per cent in 2017. This coincides with a 19 per cent fewer young people believing that the industry is dominated by men with only 36 per cent of young people saying this was true compared to 55 per cent in 2017.

When it comes to apprenticeships, 63 per cent of young people this year asserted that someone at school had outlined how apprenticeships work and their associated benefits. This is supported by a 10 per cent increase in young people who said they had received high quality careers advice, information and guidance on a wide range of careers from their respective schools. Last year the figure stood at just 17 per cent.

Karen Jones, Group HR Director, Redrow, said:

“This year’s results illustrate that apprenticeships and careers in construction are being viewed in a more positive light. Efforts by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Apprentices and initiatives such as Go Construct from the CITB can be credited with helping to make these encouraging strides. Apprenticeships are a way of futureproofing the UK workforce, particularly in sectors where there is a skills shortage such as construction so it is pleasing to see that progress is being made.”

This year’s findings, however also bring to light some fundamental barriers that remain in place for young people. Following discussions with construction and training industry experts as well as apprentices, it was revealed that the current tuition of maths and English skills as part of an apprenticeship programme are an additional hurdle for young people to overcome.

Meanwhile, low wages was referenced as the biggest barrier to entry into an apprenticeship with 42 per cent of young people saying that an increase in first year wages would incentivise them into the system.  Further financial implications were expressed by parents with more than one in ten (12 per cent) saying that the loss of family benefits when their child starts an apprenticeship (including cuts to child benefit and child tax credits) was a problem.

Karen Jones, commented:

“Theory based classroom learning isn’t the right teaching method for every apprentice and with a third of people failing to complete their apprenticeships, it is more important than ever that we identify why this might be the case. Ensuring that maths and English subjects are taught in a way that is as relevant to an apprentice’s role as possible would be a good place to start.

“As well as this, money is a barrier for apprenticeship take up. At Redrow, we pay a first year starting wage of £4.75 per hour, 35 per cent more than the standard rate and therefore recommend that first year wages are raised closer to the National Minimum Wage. We also recommend that families keep access to benefits when their child starts their apprenticeship. If the Government wants to increase apprenticeship uptake and wants to advance social mobility, reducing the financial burden for young people and families is vitally important.”