We recently spoke with Mark Scott, Director at Future Works Yorkshire, on the impact the recession has had on apprenticeships and how you can look to progress your career in the construction industry.
Tell us a bit more about Futureworks (Yorkshire) and what their aims are for 2016?
Futureworks (Yorkshire), a Community Interest Company (CIC), was formed in May 2013 to deliver the award winning YORfuture Shared Apprenticeship Service across the Yorkshire and Humber on behalf of the Construction industry & CITB. Our service was established in direct response to industry demand, providing all construction contractors & consultants with an opportunity to meet a client’s social value obligations and future workforce needs. It has been so successful that we have been asked by our clients to expand the model further.
In 2016 we are looking to continue to support more young people and promote more sustainable apprenticeships to the industry. Particularly focusing on challenging misconceptions, spreading the word about the vast array of careers and the advantages of employing apprentices, assisting with qualification development and making it easy for businesses small and large to successfully employ apprentices. Our ability to see and deliver apprenticeships where traditionally they would be overlooked or dismissed will produce more opportunities, I believe.
How has the economic environment over the past 10 years affected the availability of apprenticeships?
There is no doubt that there has been a significant effect on both apprenticeship qualifications and opportunities. But it is now time to look through the windscreen to the future rather than the rear view mirror to the past. More apprenticeship qualifications are becoming available but not all of them are fit for purpose. The world has changed considerably and qualifications must change faster to meet the needs of industry. The image of apprenticeships had a rocky start as they were seen as second class qualifications. This is slowly changing as more and more young people take up opportunities in a bid to study alongside working in a career of their choice. There still remains however, more vacancies than individuals. In the long term more must be done to ensure parity of qualifications, with apprenticeships seen in the same light as ‘A’ levels and degrees, so that progression routes for young people and the companies supporting them are clear and equivalent. This would help to ensure better careers guidance and decision making upon leaving school for young people. Parents, educational establishments and industry have a responsibility to look at apprenticeships in a new way and put behind them the old ideas and see the significant benefits they bring.
What can be done to support companies to encourage them to create more apprenticeships?
Companies need to be guided through the myriad of information on apprenticeships and courses available. They need to be helped to understand the benefits of having apprentices within their company and not just to focus on the degree of support that is first needed by the apprentice. The future of a rounded, sustainable business rests in part with the growth of a suitable, flexible and forward thinking work force. Apprenticeships are a big part of this.
What advice would you give to people looking to start a career in the construction industry? Start with asking yourself “what do you want to do with your life ?” Then open your eyes as wide as possible and do more research by contacting professional institutions. Don’t believe the stereotypes surrounding the construction industry, there are many exciting possibilities for careers at all levels in both technical and trade professions. Many more new career pathways are being generated as technology moves forward. The industry is developing a new, vibrant and diverse workforce and it needs you now!
How severe is the skills crisis at the moment?
The skills crisis is not a new phenomenon. This time, however, it has been made worse by the lack of foresight and action during previous recessions. All that has generally happened when recessions have ended is to go back to a traditional approach of acquiring skills as future demand builds. This is understandable as it is affordable, but investment in future needs is often overlooked until it’s too late to catch up on what has been lost. We have reached a point now where this lack of previous strategic investment in skills, coupled with an aging workforce is leaving companies with huge holes in their staff structure moving forward. Leading to the obvious knee jerk recruitment. Inertia is still rife in the industry and talking shops still delivering talk.
What is really needed is twin track approach whereby apprenticeships are seen as important to medium / long-term workforce planning running alongside traditional recruitment. This ensures continuity of the business now, whilst internal skills development and new thinking are being utilised for the future growth. This is both cost effective and smart.
Whilst many companies are starting to do this, SME’s need more unbiased support. The aim of the government to create 3 million apprenticeships is to be applauded but possible complicated funding has the potential to undermine ambitions, particularly for SME’s.
Problem = Skills shortage, Solution = create 3 million apprenticeships. Job done? NOT QUITE. More like job started.
What is the importance of North England Build?
From my point of view and the sector I represent, it’s a great opportunity to reach out to a large number clients and businesses and help them see the light at the end of the skills tunnel. Not just the senior executives but grass roots team members who need relevant and unbiased information about the options available and the benefits of apprenticeships in order to help them make the right choice when building their teams now and in the future.
The North England Build provides a further opportunity to help the wider audience see the Northern Powerhouse, not in terms of projects or contracts, but in terms of the availability of talented northern young people. In particular the tremendous energy and ideas that they can bring to the industry moving forward and that this should not be overlooked or underestimated as a route to #Building Your Future.
You can find more information on Futureworks Yorkshire by clicking here…