When government ignores the chaos of the apprenticeship system, they are failing to understand the role of tradespeople in the delivery of housing.
I have been continuously raising the issue of waiting lists in the apprenticeship system. As of July, we had over 11,000 on waiting lists to access off-the-job training in craft apprenticeships.
More than half of the tradespeople currently in training cannot access the formal education component of their apprenticeship.
The government has consistently failed to put in place the necessary training capacity. This issue predates Covid. This is evident in the fact that over 3,500 apprentices have been waiting over a year to access their course component.
Apprentices are constantly contacting me, saying they cannot advance or complete their apprenticeship because of these runaway waiting lists. They are justifiably angry with how they are being treated. The government doesn’t seem to understand that we desperately need these tradespeople if we are to fix the housing crisis.
The government has continuously failed to meet the targets they have set for apprentice recruitment since 2016. Worse again, they have not even put in place sufficient capacity for the apprentices that are currently in the system.
Apprenticeships that should take four years are taking five to six years to complete. No other student faces this kind of treatment. This will also have the effect of turning other school-leavers away from these careers and make future recruitment even harder.
Every one of these apprentices represent tradespeople and other professionals, who we sorely need now and for the post-pandemic recovery. If we want to attract and retain apprentices and tradespeople, then they need to be valued and treated fairly. Instead they seem to be an afterthought in both the government’s approach to education and the delivery of housing stock.
Despite the amazing efforts of administrators and teaching staff across the country, apprentices are badly let down when it comes to getting the education and training they need.”