As the Scottish Government hosts Scotland’s first Apprenticeship Summit, the Scottish Building Federation has warned that a new push on apprenticeships will fail without matching investment in industries such as construction that recruit apprentices

By April 28, 2009

Commenting on Scotland’s first Apprenticeship Summit, hosted today by the Scottish Government at the Signet Library in Edinburgh, the Scottish Building Federation has welcomed the initiative. But it warned that the ambition to create 1000 new modern apprenticeship places over the next 3 years could fail without further investment in industries such as construction that recruit significant numbers of apprentices.

The Federation called on Scottish ministers to match their support for apprenticeship places with accelerated investment in public infrastructure, greater incentives for private investment in construction and significant funding to improve the energy efficiency of buildings.

The Scottish Building Apprenticeship and Training Council, administered by the Scottish Building Federation, is responsible for the registration of apprenticeships within the Scottish construction sector and in 2008 registered approximately 2,250 new apprentices, equivalent to 15% of the total number of people starting an apprenticeship in Scotland each year. Last month, a survey of the Federation’s membership found that construction firms expect they will have to scale back recruitment of apprentices by more than a third this year as a result of the economic downturn. The Federation has revealed that this corresponds to around 1,350 fewer apprenticeships in 2009 in areas including joinery, carpentry, bricklaying, painting and decorating, plastering, plumbing and electrical contracting.

Commenting on today’s summit, Scottish Building Federation Chief Executive Michael Levack said:

“I commend the Scottish Government’s ambition to create 1000 new modern apprenticeship places over the next 3 years. The construction industry relies on a consistent supply of high quality apprentices in order to maintain skills within the sector to a consistently high standard.

“But the creation of apprenticeship places cannot take place in a vacuum. Without matching investment in those industries that employ apprentices, I fear that this new apprenticeship push will fail. With construction hit particularly hard by the recession, Scottish ministers must realise that, rather than taking on more apprentices, many building firms are being forced to scale back on recruitment. Our latest member survey shows recruitment of apprentices is set to fall by more than a third this year.

“If the Scottish Government is really serious about supporting apprenticeships, it must invest more in the industries that recruit apprentices. For the construction sector this means, wherever possible, accelerating investment in public infrastructure, in housing and new schools and hospitals, to bolster building firms’ order books. It means exploring all available opportunities to create greater incentives to encourage private investment in construction. And it means channelling investment to meet ambitious climate change targets towards initiatives such as improved building insulation that can create work for construction apprentices whilst developing their green skills.”

Notes to Editors
1. Founded in 1895, the Scottish Building Federation (SBF) is the lead voice of the construction industry in Scotland, an industry which is the largest source of private investment north of the border and contributes more than £12 billion (c.10%) to Scotland’s GDP. The overall aim of the organisation is to ensure that the important contribution of the Scottish construction industry to Scotland’s economy and society is recognised and valued, which it does through working with industry, government and the media, and that industry standards are raised.

2. The SBF promotes the interests of the construction industry to a diverse range of stakeholders and is the leading employers’ federation for the industry, representing over 700 companies from Orkney to the Borders.

3. The SBF provides an exclusive range of invaluable support services to a wide range of member companies, whether these are small single trade firms or major regional and national contractors. The shared objective that all members have in common is their commitment to health and safety, skills and integrity, ensuring the delivery of the highest standards of performance, professionalism and quality within the industry in Scotland.

4. For more information, please contact:
Alex Bruce
Tel: 0131 554 7988

28th April 2009