Blog: The importance of apprenticeships

Gavin Hay City Building
Gavin Hay

Gavin Hay, training manager at City Building and chair of the Scottish Building Apprenticeship Council, says Scottish Apprenticeship Week (29 February – 4 March) is a timely reminder for us to look more closely at the important role young people play in securing the future of our industry and the next generation of talent.

Back in 2008, Glasgow became the first city in Scotland to offer every school leaver the opportunity to learn a trade, a commitment in which City Building had an important role to play.

At the heart of this was the pressing need to address the country’s construction skills shortage while ensuring that Glasgow was ready to meet the challenge of preparing the city for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Eight years and more than 1,000 craft apprenticeships later and we’re seeing the benefits of our decision to invest in the workforce of the future.

Quality apprenticeships can help people to progress and succeed while for businesses like ours, they equip us with a skilled workforce able to compete in an increasingly demanding marketplace.

There are countless examples of men and women at City Building who joined us as apprentices and have gone on to have very successful careers in the industry – our executive director, Graham Paterson, followed exactly that path, is an example of what can be achieved through hard work.

The ethos of nurturing and supporting our people is at the heart of our business, and helps explain why we have one of the most successful apprenticeship programmes in the UK, with a 92 per cent completion rate compared with an industry average of 74 per cent.

As we look to the future we must look at the opportunities continued investment in the workforce will bring for our business and for our industry.

In order to meet the challenges that will come along, it’s important that we continue to attract young, talented individuals to our industry while at the same time improving our gender balance, to ensure that we can continue to deliver major construction projects quickly and efficiently. It is important that more investment, in line with the sectors’ Skills Investment Plan (SIP) published for the construction sector last year, is made to develop the younger generation and combat skills shortages in our trade.

There have been reports for some time of a skills gap in the construction industry where talents like bricklaying, steel-fixing and concreting are in short supply.

One way of addressing this loss of skills within the industry is to encourage more young people to consider an apprenticeship as a career route as well as by encouraging more businesses to see the value in offering these types of development opportunities.

Apprenticeships are crucial to business growth. They provide a continued pipeline of talent that will secure our industry’s future, inject new ideas and enthusiasm and give us all the impetus to look ahead with confidence.

Scottish Apprenticeship Week is a reminder to organisations of the important role that apprenticeships play in securing the future of our industry and the increased need for a more strategic approach to nurture and grow talent within the industry.

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