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How apprenticeships can help address the skills gap

How apprenticeships can help address the construction skills gap

At Midland Lead, we believe that one of the key ways to address the current construction skills gap is to support apprenticeships. It has been reported that between 2015 and 2020, the industry will need an extra 230,000 construction workers throughout the UK. That’s why businesses, industry bodies and educational institutions need to collaborate to attract and accelerate the pipeline of skilled people.

One company that reflects our vision is Redland, the UK’s leading manufacturer and supplier of pitched roof systems. This year Redland launched a competition to find the apprentice of the year. Open to all roofing apprentices enrolled with one of Redland’s participating colleges or training groups, entrants are tested and judged on their all-round ability, including business skills, to see if they have what it takes to one day run their own roofing company. With a £1,000 cash prize at stake and a pack that includes a £50 voucher from Midland Lead along with a selection of our new ancillary tools, the competition rewards young roofers for their skills and dedication.

We’re thrilled to be supporting the competition, particularly as a college we work with, Leeds College of Building (LCB), have entered. We supply LCB’s roof slating and tiling apprentices with free lead sheet and ancillaries to utilise on their courses as part of our effort to expand skills development in the roofing industry. A group of LCB students recently visited Midland Lead for a tour of the factory. Our team of experts guided them through our manufacturing process and gave them an overview of the business in our state-of-the-art training room. This kind of engagement allows the apprentices to work with real, high-quality materials and gives them valuable insight into a roofing career as well as behind-the-scenes knowledge, which highlights construction as an attractive employment option.

The severe shortage of roofers in the UK is hindering recruitment and hampering growth in the housing market, which is why we’re keen to do all we can to help support new roofing apprentices, as are Redland. The roofing competition and our work with LCB are just two examples of how the industry can make an effort to attract and retain talent, but there’s always more that can be done.

Obviously, the construction skills gap is not an issue that is going to go away unless the sector takes some decisive action. Failure to do so could stifle the country’s productivity and competitiveness. Businesses should take the lead in this issue. If more companies were to connect with local schools and colleges and work with them to inform and educate young people about the opportunities, it would go a long way to improving the numbers in construction.

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