Construction industry set for new trailblazer apprentice degree courses

Apprentice getting on-job training from Balfour Beatty [photo: Andy Wilson]

Apprentice getting on-job training from Balfour Beatty [photo: Andy Wilson] - Credit: Balfour Beatty PR promo

New ‘Trailblazer’ degree courses for apprentices in construction begin in September through 12 universities which can fast-track youngsters into management.

More school-leavers are being encouraged into high-level apprenticeships in the growing infrastructure sector with a programme started by the Balfour Beatty to create 150 new apprenticeship vacancies in civil engineering, construction and business disciplines.

The construction group is encouraging companies in its 7,000-strong UK supply chain to join the programme for more apprentices.

“There is a skills shortage where our industry needs talent,” Balfour Beatty’s chief executive Leo Quinn said. “This is our biggest ever commitment to recruit apprentices. It’s great to work in the industry, where we develop, build and run the infrastructure that we all depend on in our daily lives.”

Universities and colleges are involved in the new Trailblazer Higher and Degree courses, aimed at recruiting 80 more youngsters by the end of the year.

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Contractors are signing up to the new Higher and Degree Apprenticeships Employers’ Consortium led by Balfour Beatty, working with the government, universities and industry suppliers.

One of the biggest construction booms in the country is in East London, with massive regeneration of Docklands, expansion of Canary Wharf and huge transport projects like Crossrail.

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Universities involved with the scheme include Southampton Solent, where the Higher and Degree Apprenticeships scheme is running.

Its deputy Vice-Chancellor Jane Longmore said: “Apprenticeships carrying degrees are complementary to our curriculum and a significant professional route for all students in the future.”

The new degree apprenticeship standards are an increasingly professional approach to on-the-job training, enabling newcomers to the industry to move more quickly into management roles where a skills shortage is threatened.

The construction industry’s own training board worries that smaller contractors are not taking on apprentices because of the costs.

The board’s planning director Steve Radley said: “Small firms often feel that the time and cost involved is a barrier to taking on apprentices. So it’s vital we help these businesses overcome the perceptions to benefit from what apprenticeships can give, if we are to develop the skills for the growth forecast over the next five years.”

Small contractors are being offered help to take on apprentices in civil engineering, construction management, building services engineering, design co-ordination and quantity surveying.

New entrants gain an HNC and Associate or Technician professional status in three years, followed by a full honours degree and ‘Incorporated’ or ‘Chartered’ status in a further three years.

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