Mayor calls for more apprentices to take on careers in construction

23 September 2015


The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today urged more young people to choose a career in construction, as he joined forces with Lloyds Banking Group to launch the £1 million Construction Skills fund to help provide London homebuilders with the improved training they say the industry needs.


Lloyds Bank research released this week reveals that 87 per cent of housebuilders in the UK plan to increase the size of their workforce over the next year, with almost a third planning to use apprentices to grow their businesses in the next five years.


The £1m Construction Skills fund, launched with Lloyds Banking Group today as part of its Helping Britain Prosper Plan, will aim to address some of the acute skills challenges in London’s construction sector by boosting the training of skilled apprentices. These apprentices will play an integral role in helping speed up house building in London as part of £95.7 billion worth of construction projects planned across the capital and south east up until 2017, requiring a 20 per cent increase in skilled workers.


Since 2010, the construction sector has employed over 5,500 apprentices in London, with Crossrail and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park taking on a large number. The Mayor aims to significantly increase these numbers through his Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, which will create the UK’s largest construction site in north-west London, with the ambition to have more apprentices than any other site in Europe. Over the next 30 years an army of apprentice bricklayers, electricians, plumbers, plasterers, carpenters, scaffolders, site managers and project managers are expected to play an integral part in building 25,500 homes and transport infrastructure in the only site where HS2 meets Crossrail.


As London pushes for greater devolved powers, the Mayor is set to take over commissioning for skills and is working with Government to ensure that businesses are able to fill the vacancies that will help the city to grow.


The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “With some of the biggest infrastructure projects in the world taking place in the capital, and thousands of new homes being built, helping young people into construction apprenticeships has never been more important. We need to do everything in our power to help more people access construction opportunities and I am working hard with Government to make sure that London’s skills system works better and harder for the capital.”


Leigh Ann Smith, a 19 year old bricklayer working on Chobham Manor at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, said: “Having received my qualification yesterday, I can now say that after two and a half years on some great sites, I am a qualified bricklayer. In that time, I have learnt a unique set of skills that will set me up for life, I’ve met some great people, I’ve built up my confidence and I’ve been earning money whilst getting a qualification that is sought after all over London. To anyone my age sitting at home wondering what to do with their lives, I would say get online or walk into your local college and have a serious think about how a career in construction could work for you.”


Today’s announcement comes at a time when many house builders report difficulties recruiting qualified candidates for a range of skilled construction jobs. Electricians are in the shortest supply according to over a third of the house builders in Lloyds Bank’s survey. Many also reported difficulties recruiting site managers, project managers, plumbers, carpenters, bricklayers, and kitchen fitters.


António Horta-Osório, Chief Executive of Lloyds Banking Group, said: “This new Lloyds Banking Group fund will help provide the improved training that housebuilders tell us their workforce needs. We are passionately committed to developing Londoners’ skills and building more homes for the capital, and this fund will contribute towards both.”


It is hoped that the funding pledged by Lloyds Banking Group today will build on the fantastic existing training centres where apprentices can learn their skills. Since 2012, the National College for Construction in Waltham Forest has trained in excess of 400 apprentices in much-needed trades including scaffolding, highways maintenance and construction operations. Additional, almost 1000 trainees have completed short courses in dry-lining, formwork, concreting, external wall insulation.  Over the last three years, NCC South has trained nearly 100 roofing apprentices and over 200 scaffolding apprentices in their Erith training centre.

Notes to editors