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Apprentice clearing house to save skills in downturn

The Secretary of State for Skills, John Denham, has announced a rescue package to protect house building skills during the economic downturn.
A government task force involving ConstructionSkills and the Sector Skills Council has been set up to quickly find new employer places for apprentices facing redundancy and ensure there are enough new apprentices in the system to deliver the government’s house building plans in the future.

With 1,000 apprentices at risk of not completing their apprenticeship due to the current economic climate, a network of regional ConstructionSkills staff have been enlisted to try to encourage employers to keep their existing apprentices.

An apprenticeship ‘clearing house’ developed with the Department for Innovation, University and Skills (DIUS) and the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) will encourage employers in the construction sector to take those apprentices found to be 'at risk'.

Clearing house staff will, in the absence of an upturn in the private new housing market, try to find extra placements in the social housing, repair and maintenance or environmental improvement markets. They will also try to link apprentices to some of the government’s major infrastructure projects.

Major infrastructure projects like the Olympics, Crossrail, the Building Schools for the Future programme, colleges and hospitals are thought to be the key to a rapid expansion of apprenticeship places.

Government construction clients will be given responsibility for identifying and securing extra apprenticeship places through their procurement processes and supply chains.

Mark Farrar, ConstructionSkills chief executive said “Despite the uncertainty of the current economic climate the long term trend is for rising levels of construction activity so it is imperative that the industry continues to train ahead of the recovery.

Farrer added 'Skills will be in great demand in years to come. Apprenticeship training will be the key to meeting these demands so I’m pleased the government is working with us to provide the appropriate support to both employers and apprentices during these difficult times.”

ConstructionSkills is still calling on companies of all sizes to commit to helping young people enter the industry this year before they are lost to other sectors. Thousands more employers are needed to match this years's demand with 19,000 applications received so far but only 4,600 employer vacancies offered.
10 September 2008

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