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More apprenticeships will mean more brickies, says FMB

A shortage of bricklayers must be addressed by an increase in the number of construction apprenticeships, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
The call follows research carried out by recruitment firm Manpower, which found building firms in London have hired Portuguese bricklayers on £1,000-a-week wages because of a shortage of skilled Britons.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “This research is a timely reminder that government must put the right framework in place to encourage construction employers to train more apprentices.”

The FMB’s Q3 2014 State of Trade Survey showed 41% of SME construction firms are struggling to hire bricklayers, up from 34% three months earlier.

Berry warned that if skills shortages continue to increase at the same rate, it could undermine the surge in private house building.

He added: “To make matters worse, we are still unsure what action government is taking in terms of its apprenticeship funding reforms – an issue which has been rumbling on for more than two years. If the recently appointed Skills Minister Nick Boles implements the apprenticeship funding reforms as proposed, they will greatly detract from the ability and desire of small firms to train apprentices. As two-thirds of all construction apprentices are trained by micro-businesses – the very smallest of firms – this is very worrying indeed.”

“The construction and house building industries are emerging from the deepest and longest recession we have ever faced but increasing workloads mean little if we don’t have enough skilled workers to carry out these new projects. Government must therefore make sure employers have every reason to increase the number of apprenticeship places they are offering or the construction industry, and the wider economy, will begin to flounder.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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