An annual survey of civil engineering contractors shows that the number of firms employing apprentices has risen over the past three years, from 14% to just over 20%.
The results are the first clear indication that civil engineering bosses are taking a long term view of training needs after the Government’s pledge to bring forward more infrastructure projects.
But the Civil Engineering Contractors Association also warned that there was a decline in the number of small and medium-sized firms who took on apprentices last year.
More than a fifth of CECA members responded to the survey, representing a total of more than 20,250 employees. Of these, 45.7% said they expected to carry out more training over the next year, with 44.3% saying they expected to carry out the same amount of training.
CECA national managing director Mark Roper said: “CECA is proud that its members continue to support apprenticeships in the industry, despite the difficult economic climate they have been facing.
“Results from CECA’s training and development survey show that although contractors are facing increasingly difficult trading conditions, they are continuing to train and recruit apprenticeships. This is vitally important for the health of the UK’s infrastructure sector.
“However there is a real concern that this demand is not reflected across the wider industry. In light of the aging workforce, there is a vital need to provide quality apprenticeships to train tomorrow’s workforce today.
“In our recent publication, Infrastructure: the Routemap for Growth, CECA called for increased funding for civil engineering apprenticeships, as well as up-skilling and qualifying the existing workforce to aid retention and enable work in new and emerging markets.
“Job sustainability is just as important as reducing unemployment in the short term. This is why CECA is campaigning for the expansion of the pre-apprenticeship model, as well as wider roll-out of the shared apprenticeship scheme, to enable more businesses to train the next generation.”