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Construction apprenticeships: a small business guide

3-minute read

Instructor with apprentice on construction site working with tablet
Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith

30 January 2024

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Construction apprenticeships can help businesses find and train people passionate about exploring a career in the industry. From on the job training to government grants, here’s everything you need to know about taking on an apprentice.

Ongoing skills shortages in the construction industry

The shortage of skilled labour in the construction workforce has been an ongoing challenge for small businesses trying to recover from the pandemic. Early retirement, the cost of living crisis, and supply shortages have pushed experienced workers out of the industry.

That said, changes to the UK skills shortage occupation list mean it may now be easier for trades businesses to hire overseas workers.

The government has approved five additional trades on the list to help businesses recruit for roles they’re struggling to fill:

  • bricklayers and masons
  • roofers, roof tilers, and slaters
  • construction and building trades n.e.c.

This means people may be able to apply for a UK working visa more easily in these areas as they can apply for a skilled worker visa.

Construction apprenticeships to address talent shortage

Research from Vodafone suggests small businesses are scrapping plans to hire an apprentice due to the soaring cost of living.

But with government funding, hiring an apprentice for your construction or trades business could be another way to develop your workforce and address the talent shortage.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) improves skills development in the industry and links businesses with apprentices.

The CITB has also launched a New Entrant Employer Support Team to help small businesses understand the complex process of hiring an apprentice. They’ll help construction businesses in England to find talent, relevant training, and grants.

You can email the team for more information: [email protected].

Other resources and support for employers looking to hire apprentices include:

  • Talentview – a free platform specifically for construction apprenticeships, this site lets you promote your apprenticeships and training opportunities
  • resources from the government at apprenticeships.gov.uk
  • Go Construct – a jobs board for construction apprenticeships and jobs

Make the most of National Apprenticeship Week

From 5-11 February, it’s National Apprenticeship Week, when attention turns to the positive impact apprenticeships can have for young people and businesses.

Throughout the week there will be lots of events that give you the opportunity to learn how other businesses make the most of apprenticeships.

Types of construction apprenticeships

There are four types of construction apprenticeships, from intermediate and advanced to higher and degree level.

When it comes to roles available, apprenticeships can include:

  • quantity surveyor
  • architect
  • bricklayer
  • carpenters
  • dryliner
  • groundworker
  • joiner

Are there grants for hiring an apprentice?

You may be able to apply for a grant for hiring an apprentice if you’re registered with the CITB.

Grants available include:

  • £2,500 a year for attendance and £3,000 a year for achievement
  • additional £2,000 for drylining apprentices

Apprenticeship Levy reform?

The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced to help fund new apprenticeship schemes and grow the workforce.

However, industry groups, training providers, and organisations have been calling for a reform of the apprenticeship levy and that it’s not as effective as it should be. This comes as research from City & Guilds finds that employers have spent only 55.5 per cent of their levy funding in the last five years, on average.

Only businesses with an annual pay bill of more than £3 million have to pay the Apprenticeship Levy – so it’s not likely to affect small businesses. You can use the government website to find out if you have to pay the Apprenticeship Levy and check the criteria.

Access government funding

If you don’t pay the Apprenticeship Levy, you’ll instead pay five per cent towards the cost of training and assessing your apprentice. The government pays for the remaining 95 per cent, directly to the training provider.

You might be able to get an additional £1,000 to pay for other costs when your apprentice is in the workplace if they are:

  • 16 to 18 years old
  • 19 to 25 years old with an education, health, and care plan
  • 19 to 25 years old and they used to be in care

Find out more about funding for apprenticeships.

What are the benefits of employing an apprentice?

Alongside the financial advantages, there are many reasons why hiring an apprentice could be a positive step for your small business.

Benefits include:

  • you can teach people on the job – helping apprentices to develop skills unique to your small business
  • apprentices are often highly motivated with an appetite to learn and one eye on gaining long-term employment
  • you can give back to young people and the local community – this increases your chances of having a loyal and dedicated workforce

For more information, read our general guide to hiring an apprentice.

More small business news and resources

Have you got a construction apprenticeship scheme for your business? Let us know your experience in the comments.

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Photograph: goodluz/stock.adobe.com
Catriona Smith

Written by

Catriona Smith

Catriona Smith is a content and marketing professional with 12 years’ experience across the financial services, higher education, and insurance sectors. She’s also a trained NCTJ Gold Standard journalist. As a Senior Copywriter at Simply Business, Catriona has in-depth knowledge of small business concerns and specialises in tax, marketing, and business operations. Catriona lives in the seaside city of Brighton where she’s also a freelance yoga teacher.

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

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