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New apprenticeship scheme aims to boost completion rates
Sector Skills Council ConstructionSkills has announced the pilot of 'Programme Led Apprenticeships' - an initiative under the new Sector Skills Agreement that aims to bring employers and training providers together to boost apprenticeship opportunities.
Forming a core part of the drive under the Agreement to increase apprenticeship completions 400 per cent by 2010, Programme Led Apprenticeships aim to address the current lack of on-site work experience opportunities, which ConstructionSkills says is preventing young people from completing their NVQ.
The new Apprenticeships will begin with a young person completing a year full time at FE College, gaining their Key Skills Level 1, Employment Rights and Responsibilities (ERR) and beginning their Technical Certificate (ICA). They will then be selected for the Programme Led Apprenticeships scheme in their second year. After the period of coaching and practice at college, and completion of their ICA, they will transfer to employment to gain the site experience necessary to gain their NVQ and complete their Apprenticeship Framework.
Peter Lobban, Chief Executive, CITB-ConstructionSkills said: "The industry as a whole needs to recruit 88,000 people every year for the next five years, yet at the moment we know many potential entrants are slipping through the net due to lack of work experience opportunities.
“By increasing the opportunity for young people to practice their skills on site, we will not only address the drop out rate generated by trainees being unable to complete their NVQ, but also ensure that the future of the industry is in safe hands."
Following on from an industry apprenticeship completions workshop hosted by ConstructionSkills and the Apprenticeships Task Force, almost 20 employers have already expressed an interest in the Programme Led Apprenticeships scheme. In addition, training providers in Leeds, Newcastle and Kent have shown interest in placing students on this scheme.
Vaughan Burnand, Chief Executive of Shepherd Construction said: "In order to address the future skills needs of construction, it will be vital that young people are given the opportunity to practise their skills on-site, throughout the supply chain.
“Programme Led Apprenticeships have the potential to make the process of taking on a trainee simpler for employers, which will be of benefit to them individually and to the industry as a whole. We're keen to be a part of this scheme, and look forward to working with CITB-ConstructionSkills on the pilot."
According ConstructionSkills, funding has already been agreed with the LSC to support Programme Led Apprenticeships, which are expected to be implemented at a local level through a partnership between FE colleges and an employer-led Local Apprenticeship Network.
Stephen Ratcliffe, Director of the Major Contractors Group, commented: "This is an exciting development. For many years now the industry has complained it has not been getting the calibre of new recruits it needed. That trend has now been reversed and we have plenty of young people knocking at our door.
“Hence, we need to find ways of providing them with work experience that are safe and meet their needs and expectations. Equally, we have to ensure that contractors have people on their sites who can work safely with their colleagues and make a real contribution to the job in hand. The new ConstructionSkills Scheme aims to meet these challenges and the Major Contractors Group will be providing support to get it under way."
The next stages of the scheme will involve matching employers to training providers, and identifying pilot sites, in order to run six pilots in 2005-6, each taking on 20 students. The students will be selected from the current cohort of FE students, and will start on site in April next year.
In addition to Programme Led Apprenticeships, ConstructionSkills is also supporting a number of other apprenticeship routes, such as the Supply Chain Apprenticeship model.
Roger Robinson, Executive Director of Carillion Plc and member of the Apprenticeships Task Force, said of the scheme: "In order to achieve the number of new entrants we need throughout the industry, it will be key to look at flexible solutions to the industry's needs.
“For Carillion, working with our supply chain to take on and train apprentices has been extremely successful, and we would encourage other major contractors to take responsibility for this as a potential route. However, new initiatives such as Programme Led Apprenticeships can only benefit construction in terms of enabling even more companies to train."
The ConstructionSkills Sector Skills Agreement (SSA), is a series of agreements between training providers such as colleges and universities ('supply side'), employers ('demand side') and Government, designed to address the construction industry's current and future skills needs. For more information on the Sector Skills Agreement for construction, visit: www.constructionskills.net
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