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Broader focus gives apprentices better tools for the trade

The scope of technical certificates for construction apprenticeships was broadened last October to better prepare our learners for the working world.

The decision to do this was taken after ConstructionSkills, the UK’s Sector Skills Council, held consultations with businesses of all sizes, and employer federations, in 2005. The feedback from the industry at the time was that apprentices were not receiving a broad enough mix of training, and as a result were not as well prepared for life in the industry as they could be.

Now, as part of ConstructionSkills’ Construction Qualification Strategy (CQS) work, training providers such as Carillion deliver a more theory-based technical certificate to young people entering the industry. Apprentices are taught elements of different trades that complement their own; for instance, at our training centre in Hounslow, London, bricklaying apprentices pick up elements of carpentry, and vice versa.

Furthermore, learners are now also educated in business-related techniques such as planning and estimating, receive more in-depth health and safety training and a grounding in sustainable building techniques.

All of this contributes to today’s apprentices becoming more broadly-skilled, something which all employers will benefit from.

Our apprentices complete training in one of three disciplines: bricklaying, carpentry or painting and decorating. And, under the new broadened apprenticeship format, we can supply firms in the property maintenance sector with young people who are much more employable.

For example, not only will our Level 2-qualified carpenters know how to replace the weights in faulty sash windows, but they’ll also know the right way to decorate them, which prevents businesses from having to bring in other tradespeople – and saves them time and money.

There’s also a big plus for the calibre of apprentices overall. During the ten years that I’ve been involved in construction training, I’ve noticed the academic aptitude of young people entering the industry steadily progressing. I believe that the increase in theoretical learning within the broadened apprenticeships should mean that this develops more.

It can only be a good thing that our next generation of workers is shaping up to be better than ever before.

Matt West is centre manager at Carillion Construction Training in Hounslow.

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