Placing people at the heart of growth

Following the release of the Government's Construction 2025 document, Executive Director Christine Townley gives her views on how the sector can place people at the heart of growth.

I was encouraged by the focus on people in Construction 2025 – the Government’s Industrial Strategy - the sector is rich with talent, and ambitions for growth require that talent be recognised and nurtured early on to enable the British Construction Industry to realise the government’s vision.

In many ways, the sector is at a crossroads. It is clear that there is a real chance for industry leaders to present a positive image of the sector; although the government rightly points to the general rise in apprenticeship take-up, it is worrying that Construction apprenticeships have fallen by 10 per cent this year – what more can the industry and government do to ensure that more young people gain access to the construction industry?

The government is currently reviewing apprenticeship funding following the Richards review and is calling for the industry to take a greater lead both in the design and funding of apprenticeships and related training. Certainly, apprenticeships should be employer led and the capabilities of employers to draw down apprenticeship funding can be improved by simplifying the process.

But in a growth industry, it is important to remember that innovation requires the development of new technologies, systems and skills. The construction industry is a transient sector and apprenticeship training should focus on preparing our young people for new ways of doing things as much as encouraging take-up of baseline skills.

I am pleased that the Trust is currently consulting on a parliamentarian’s review of apprenticeships and how best to fund the next generation of talent. The young people we work with at Construction Youth Trust often face disadvantage and one question both the government and the sector must ask themselves is how we can all ensure that young people from disadvantage have the same chance to access apprenticeship opportunities as others.

I believe it is crucial that funding is available to the third sector so that the expertise of organisations like Construction Youth Trust can be used to help the sector find, train and retain young talent. The vision for growth outlined in Construction 2025 can only succeed if all stakeholders from all sectors work together to seek and nurture tomorrow’s best and brightest – no matter what their barriers to success.