The construction sector in England saw a 6 per cent year-on-year drop in apprenticeship starts last year, according to the latest government figures.
Figures compiled by the Department for Education (DfE) state that 24,530 workers started construction, planning and the built environment apprenticeships in 2022/23.
This represented a fall from 26,080 in the previous academic year.
Reacting to the statistics, Craig Sanders, joint managing director at tool hire firm Protrade, said: “The construction industry needs to ask itself the question as to whether it is setting the bar too high for entry-level positions, particularly when it comes to high academic requirements.
“We’re in danger of unintentionally excluding valuable talent by setting impossibly high standards as we compete with other job opportunities in different sectors that have become more favourable.
“Contrary to outdated perceptions, today’s construction industry is cleaner and safer. We need to dispel the lingering notion of it being a ‘dirty’ environment and encourage a fresh perspective among potential apprentices.”
A total of 76,280 workers started intermediate apprenticeships during 2022/23, with 147,930 starting advanced apprenticeships and 4,890 in the “higher” category.
The DfE figures showed that the number of under-19s starting a construction apprenticeship in 2022/23 was 12,390.
Construction and related industries was the sixth-highest sector for apprenticeship starts during the year, standing behind health, public services and care (98,800 starts); business, administration and law (90,700), engineering and manufacturing (45,900); retail and commercial (31,000); and information and communication technology (25,100).
Last week, Construction News reported that funding is under threat for an online apprenticeship platform funded by the Construction Leadership Council.
Writing today in an opinion piece marking National Apprenticeship Week, Build UK chair Julie White said that more is needed to be done to attract and retain apprentices.
She said: “We need to improve how we share information – doing everything we can to keep people in the industry, even if they decide individual businesses are not right for them.
“If someone has found that an apprenticeship in one area of construction is a good fit in the first place and then have a change of heart, it’s possible they are not aware of the other areas of the industry they might be able to pursue.”