Government ‘Plan for Jobs’ provides vital employment opportunities for next generation explains David Hall, Training Partnerships Director, British Gypsum.
“Earlier this month The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced a number of initiatives to support job, apprenticeship and training opportunities for young people in the UK – all of which are crucial to the future of the construction industry and skills of our labour pool.
“COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on life as we know it and while the real, long term social and economic effects remain unclear, the Government’s plans to support school leavers and apprentices to find work should be seen as a ray of light for the next generation as we come out of this crisis.
“As part of the ‘Plan for Jobs’ outlined by the Chancellor, businesses are being incentivised to take on young people through a number of different measures. Under its ‘Kickstart Scheme’ the Government will cover 25 hours’ Minimum Wage costs per week for each new job created for 16-24 year olds. It is also offering a £2,000 incentive payment for each apprentice employed under 25 (in addition to the £1,000 already offered for 16-18 year olds), a £1,500 payment for apprentices aged over 25 and £1,000 for every new traineeships provided. £101m has also been pledged for 18-19 year olds to study targeted high value Level 2 and 3 courses (many in construction trades) where there aren’t any employment opportunities available.
“The scheme is a massive boost for our industry which has always struggled to secure young talent. Amongst the businesses we work with in the construction industry; apprenticeships and traineeships will now have a more important role than ever to play in supporting firms to operate profitably, fill job vacancies and develop skills. For individuals; not only will it help to create new job and learning opportunities for young people, it will also ensure that the industry does not lose ground on the important steps already taken to develop new talent and skills in each sub-sector.
“In short, not only will the scheme support economic development, if businesses fully embrace the opportunities presented, it will also help towards a significant reduction in the skills gap.
“At British Gypsum we already support 60 further education colleges across the UK to provide NVQ diploma and SVQ training to this next generation of plasterers. We currently have 1,542 diploma students enrolled with Thistle Partnership Colleges in England – all of whom are prime candidates for apprenticeships or traineeships and who will benefit directly from the scheme.
“During the course of the last couple of weeks we have spoken with a number of our students attending the Thistle Partnership courses and our Site Ready Skimming Course about the measures that have been put in place. All have expressed their relief at the support, revealing their worries that had built up since the onset of UK lockdown and about the fears of a lack of future job opportunities.
“I have also been speaking with many businesses in the plastering and drylining industry about the support that is now available for them to take on apprentices, trainees or diploma graduates and something that has really stood out to me is the lack of awareness amongst business owners of the measures in place and the process involved in taking them on. Something that I am sure will be reflected amongst all sectors of the construction industry.
“Hiring an apprentice is a productive and effective way for any business to grow talent and develop a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce and it is vital not only for the next generation, but for the future of our industry that businesses take advantage of government support to provide young people with these opportunities to learn a trade and carve a new career. The Apprenticeships website has all the information businesses need to get started and is a great source of reference when considering taking on apprentices. Firms should also contact their local building colleges to find a direct source of trainees or apprentices.
“In our industry the only way the next generation of tradespeople can truly learn and improve is through practical experience which is why on the job training and the Governments support of this is so vital. There are a wide variety of practical training courses that you can opt to send trainee and apprentices on to complement and enhance their learning whilst working for your business. For example, within the plastering arena, British Gypsum’s Site Ready Skimming Course is now run at a number of academies across England. It is aimed at supporting college leavers who have completed a level 2 diploma or similar programme, with the skills required to undertake the skimming of plasterboards on-site. Free to attend, British Gypsum is funding up to 100 students this year alone to attend the course, helping them to be prepared, skilled and experienced for work on modern building sites and giving employers a capable and proficient employee who is ready to hit the ground running.
“Whichever way you look at it the Plan for Jobs will make a real difference to young people and the construction industry if businesses, where possible, take advantage of the measures that are being put in place.”
For more information about taking on an Apprentice visit apprenticeships.gov.uk