Government contracts for major transport projects will include targets for creating new apprenticeships from March, the Department for Transport has announced.
Contractors will now be required to either create one apprenticeship for every £3m to £5m of money spent on a contract, or deliver a year-on-year increase in the number of apprentices employed during the lifetime of a contract.
It is hoped the quota will help the government meet its target of creating 30,000 apprenticeships in the road and rail sectors by 2020.
The changes come as part of the DfT’s Transport Infrastructure Skills strategy led by Crossrail chairman Terry Morgan, which aims to boost the number of apprentices entering the sector over the next five years.
The new requirement will see the number of apprenticeships created each year make up 2.5 per cent of sector’s total workforce by 2020.
The DfT said its delivery partners Highways England, Network Rail, High Speed 2 and Crossrail would now work with suppliers to ensure apprenticeships are at the “heart of contracts”.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Our record investment in the transport system won’t just deliver new world-class infrastructure; it will create opportunity for people across the UK by guaranteeing apprenticeships through contracts.
“We are creating thousands of high-quality careers across the country, many of which are cutting-edge, highly technical and require Britain’s best minds.”
As part of today’s proposals, the DfT is also recommending that all organisations of more than 250 employees implement a “returnship” programme to make it easier for workers, particularly women, to return to work after time out.
Mr Morgan, whose Crossrail project has created more than 500 apprenticeships since 2009, said: “As we have seen on Crossrail, by working with our suppliers we can help young people begin long and successful careers in an exciting and nationally important sector.
“To create a workforce capable of delivering the unprecedented number of transport projects in the pipeline, it is vital we increase the number of apprentices and attract more women into the industry.”
Balfour Beatty chief executive Leo Quinn said: “Record levels of investment in our transport infrastructure create an opportunity and a responsibility the industry must embrace.
“We stand by the government’s ambitions to make transport a real career choice for our young people, to increase the number of quality apprenticeships and to raise the skills levels of the sector.
“The 5 % Club – an employer-led campaign with a clear commitment to tackle the skills shortage and youth unemployment – has a key role to play in helping government to deliver its ambitious transport infrastructure skills strategy.”