Building Skills

Shared construction apprenticeships for Merseyside

David McCourt

Building Skills, an apprenticeship scheme in Merseyside, is looking for trainees to work in the construction industry.

The scheme is a partnership between local social enterprise Fusion21, community-based employment business Employer Pool and the national training organisation for construction, CITB-Construction Skills.

During the downturn the construction sector in Merseyside saw hundreds of part-qualified apprentices leaving mid-way through their training as local contractors could not guarantee them work.

A number of new building projects including Liverpool Waters, the Mersey Crossing, the Liverpool 2 deep-water container terminal and social housing retrofit programme, Project Viridis, has put new recruitment demands on the sector.

The January 2013 Construction Skills Network report produced by CITB-Construction Skills shows that nearly 3,000 new recruits will be needed annually in the region between now and 2017 to replace those who retire or leave.

Corey Read, from Old Swan in Liverpool, has been taken on by  Building Skills Crosby Construction as an apprentice joiner through Building Skills.

He said: "I wasn't sure about doing an apprenticeship because if work dries up you can't always finish your training. But this scheme will move me somewhere else if a contract ends, so I can definitely get my NVQ.

"Learning on the job is better than doing two years at college as employers are always going to go for someone who's had experience on site."

Tony Dolan, managing director at Crosby Construction, said: "The beauty of this scheme is that Fusion21 recruit and screen apprentices and get them work-ready before they start on site.

"This meant Corey had a fair idea of what was expected of him and he had the right attitude. We've had no problems with him and that's not always the way with apprentices."

Through the Building Skills scheme, Merseyside contractors share apprentices, employing them for any length of time, depending on the building contracts they win. This means there is no long-term commitment or cost for employers.

If a contractor can no longer keep an apprentice then Building Skills finds the trainee another placement so they can complete their training.

Once a contractor joins the scheme they are given an apprentice officer who manages trainees throughout their training, monitoring their on-site work performance and ensuring they are on track with their qualification.

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