Government approval of apprenticeship standards can help address the shortfall in white collar construction professionals, says Andy Dodson
After a long wait for government approval, in September 2019 a new range of construction apprenticeship standards were approved for delivery. Amongst those approved for delivery were the Level 6 construction site manager, Level 6 construction quantity surveyor, Level 6 design and construction management, Level 4 construction site supervisor and Level 4 construction quantity surveying technician. Educational providers have been delivering these courses since September 2020.
The big question is whether the approval of these standards will help address the shortfall in white collar construction professionals that has been well documented for several years. One of the biggest issues that needs to be addressed is the general awareness of apprenticeships across the whole sector. Whilst some large contractors and consultancies have been utilising apprenticeships for several years now, predominantly through alternative construction related apprenticeship standards, take up by regional contractors and small and medium-sized enterprises remains low.
One of the most common misconceptions is that only apprenticeship levy-paying companies can take on apprentices enrolled on an apprenticeship standard course.
This is not the case. Non-levy-paying companies only have to contribute 5% of the cost of an apprenticeship, so for example in the case of the Level 6 construction site manager apprenticeship, this would be £900 when compared to a typical cost for a sponsored part-time degree of £13,800.
“Apprenticeships offer employers the opportunity to develop staff or invest in early careers hiring without breaking the bank”
In certain instances, the government will cover 100% of the cost as well as the providing additional financial incentives which are currently in place.
In times when money is tight, apprenticeships offer employers the opportunity to develop existing staff or invest in early careers hiring whilst not breaking the bank.
What is even more encouraging is that the CIOB is currently in the process of becoming an End Point Assessment Organisation for the three Level 6 apprenticeships, with the End Point Assessment being the Professional Review, opening up the door to a new wave of chartered construction professionals.
Gaining chartership early on in a career is quite something, with the apprentices showing a high level of competence and dedication to upholding professional standards. This is a great opportunity for both staff development and one that will have tangible business benefits.
With a greater awareness of the accessibility of apprenticeship funding for non-levy payers, the introduction of the new standards which are aimed at contractor organisations, more educational institutes becoming registered training providers that can offer these apprenticeships, plus the prospect of gaining a new generation of chartered construction professionals, the construction industry should grasp this opportunity with both hands.
Andy Dodson MCIOB is the construction management course leader at Solent University.