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Putting a stop to the skills shortage

The latest skills survey from the Chartered Institute of Building revealed that 82 per cent of construction sector professionals believe there is a skills shortage in the industry.

It is now more important than ever that businesses in the sector are focusing on developing talent, and investing in their workforce’s ongoing development.

A great way of ensuring a company maintains a sustainable skills base is by investing in apprenticeships, and it is often the most efficient and effective way for a company to bring new employees into the business. In fact, according to the same survey, 90 per cent of the people asked believe that apprentices are key to filling the skills gap within the industry.

The next generation of tradespeople, such as plasterers and dry lining fixers and finishers, need to be equipped with the skills and experience required for a role in construction, and an apprenticeship gives young people access to industry leading expertise that can form the basis  to knowledge and skills development.

Apprentices do require support, and sometimes businesses can be dissuaded from taking them on because of the investment required. However, there are a great deal of resources available to help businesses develop their apprenticeship schemes.

Resources available

Organisations such as the Construction Industry Training Board can help match trainees with a suitable employer and similarly, training colleges are always looking to place Diploma plastering students with employers through their own liaison officers, who can set up on the job experience during qualifications with the aim of getting students into full-time apprenticeships with employers.

Manufacturers also have a big part to play by offering exposure to the latest industry developments, products and techniques.

They often run training courses to give young people hands-on experience and chance to learn from experts in their field.

But there is more that manufacturers can do to improve the knowledge and skillset of young people coming into a career in construction.

Online learning

For example, as part of the Thistle Plasters Partnership scheme, British Gypsum has launched an online learning hub, providing industry knowledge which is mapped to the national occupational standards to support the curriculum studied by apprentices.

It gives access to presentations, learning exercises, videos and new product details. The Hub also has a discussion forum which is a great place to ask fellow trainees and technical experts from British Gypsum for advice and guidance on products and systems.

Plastering is an invaluable skill required by the construction industry and with the right training and skills, can become a very rewarding career. While competition may be high for young people hoping to get on training schemes or apprenticeship programmes, the onus is on businesses and manufacturers to ensure that they are bringing classroom learning to life and supporting the skills development required for a sustainable future in the construction industry.

Dave Hall is Technical Academy manager at British Gypsum

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