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National Apprenticeship Week 2023: What Role Do Apprentices Play in Rebuilding our Economy?


Written by:

Julia Stevens
Director of Engagement, Wales



Construction apprenticeships are crucial in Wales, particularly for growing the supply of skills. It’s the main route into the industry, so it’s very important for employers, young people and career changers.

From an economic perspective, apprenticeships create meaningful, well-paid jobs. At the moment, with the cost-of-living crisis, that’s a vital consideration for young people.

For employers, the Welsh Government’s apprenticeship route is fully funded. This investment is key, as all costs are rising for employers. However, we do have challenges over the numbers required.  The latest CSN (Construction Skills Network) data shows an additional 9,100 workers are needed in Wales between now and 2027. So, for us and for industry, apprenticeships are going to be really important helping to close that gap.

Industry obviously has its own role to play in construction becoming more sustainable. In Wales, all our level 3 construction apprenticeships have a green element built in. This means we are already putting in the content needed for learners to be at the forefront,  driving industry’s response to some of the most pressing challenges of our time, such as the climate emergency.

In Wales we’ve seen great success with the shared apprenticeship schemes. Both Cyfle in south-west Wales and Y Prentis in south-east Wales are very successful at running these shared apprenticeship schemes.

These also mean that participants get a much broader range of experience because they’re learning whilst working with lots of different employers. The retention figures are great as well – for example, Cyfle have supported 830 shared apprentices to date and their retention rate is about 90%, which is fantastic. Obviously, a proportion of time is spent in a learning environment with further education providers, but most  is spent on site, still learning but also getting real, meaningful hands-on experience. At CITB we’re working closely with Welsh Government, employers and further education providers to make sure  that young people coming onto site have a high level of competence. As Wales has a high proportion of SMEs, these smaller firms need our support to connect them with the right apprentices, Here  the shared apprenticeship model should rightly remain where we, alongside those partners, look to explore its potential to the fullest.

There is a broad range of skills needed across the industry, from roofing to carpentry to bricklaying, to name just a few. But there’s also the importance of things like sustainability and knowledge of green skills. Net zero and retrofit are really important in Wales where we’ve got a high proportion of older homes (almost a third were built pre-1919) and heritage buildings. Diversity and inclusivity are also essential. People entering the industry can help us identify other new entrants as well.

Employers need to understand that it’s not just about getting another 9,100 people, it’s about getting the right people into the industry and targeting them with attractive offers that help break down some of the barriers to accessing a career in construction. This will ensure we as an industry meet the aims of the Well-being of Future Generations Act, creating a more prosperous Wales, stimulate the circular economy and offer sustainable employment.

For information on apprenticeships, please contact CITB at customerengagement​

Business News Wales