NFB: SMEs are in a unique position to help tackle the skills crisis

Posted On: 
21st February 2017

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) stated that the apprenticeship levy could deepen skills inequalities between regions.

A report published by the IPPR claims that the apprenticeship levy – announced in 2015 and scheduled to come into effect from April 2017 – will direct most funds for training into the south east and London, whilst neglecting the Midlands and the northern regions.

The report, entitled Skills 2030: Why the adult skills system is failing to build an economy that works for everyone, states: “These areas also recorded among the highest vote shares for Brexit. […] with public funding for adult skills cut by 40% since 2010/11 and employer investment in training in decline, there is no sign of the extra investment promised to increase economic opportunity in ‘left behind areas’.”

The National Federation of Builders (NFB) has highlighted the extent of the construction skills crisis and had called on the Government to address it in a way that benefits every region. Increasing funding for training to SMEs would do much to ensure that skills shortages are tackled effectively at a local level.

Paul Bogle, head of policy and research, said: “SMEs are in a unique position to make a difference because they typically work within a 15-mile radius of their head office and have a better understanding of what their local communities need. For every £1 invested with SMEs, 90p remains locally to hire local workers and train local apprentices who will ultimately help plug these specific regional skills shortages.”

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) estimates that the industry needs to recruit 35,000 new workers each year to keep up with work demand. Considering there were just 22,496 construction apprenticeship starts in 2015, there is still much work to do in order to deliver the skilled workforce the country needs.

Bogle added: “With the industry still very reliant on skilled migrant workers from the EU to keep up with current work demand, the Government should commit itself to a skills strategy that works for everyone.”