The construction sector is hugely important, responsible for homes, roads, rail lines and the basic infrastructure that underpins everyday life. There is also a great deal of variety when it comes to the types of construction jobs available to prospective employees and increasingly there are a variety of entry routes into the profession. As an alternative to studying for a degree in engineering or architecture, for example, construction apprenticeships are providing an accessible starting point for young people looking to make their first move into employment and more experienced individuals looking for a career change.

How a construction apprenticeship works

Employers in the construction industry like apprenticeships because they help develop new employees with the skills, education and experience they need. Apprentices like them because they allow them to gain job-specific skills and a formal qualification whilst still earning a wage. There are many different forms of apprenticeship, but typically, they take between 18-24 months to complete and involve studying one day per week, or through block release.

Once you start your apprenticeship, you will be taken through an induction programme which will guide you through your training and the contents of the programme, including the studying of any formal qualifications. We will also help and advise students throughout their apprenticeship. We will also help, guide and advise our apprentices, please do not hesitate to ask questions if there is anything you are unsure about.

All apprenticeships are different but they often include:

  • on-the-job coaching and learning
  • off-the-job learning
  • employer induction and training
  • online learning and support
  • workbooks
  • projects
  • mentoring and line management support
  • regular workplace reviews
  • specific training for individuals

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The construction industry and the housing crisis.

One of the biggest issues facing the UK today is the lack of affordable housing. In London, where the situation is at its most severe, the average London house price reached £507,230 in the fourth quarter of 2021 as the UK property market boom continued, according to a closely-watched index. Although, there are many political and economic factors at the root of the UK’s housing crisis, the construction industry does offer a potential solution. Having a steady supply of workers in this sector, both skilled and unskilled, is critical to ensure that there are enough homes being built in the country.

In particular, encouraging young people to enter the industry through apprenticeships is an effective way of bolstering the construction workforce. Many individuals feel that there is a barrier to entering technical or management construction jobs because they do not have the relevant qualifications as many are unable to attend university for financial or other reasons.

Apprenticeships can offer an alternative entry point to these individuals, alongside a host of other advantages:

  • Financial – As well as not having to pay tuition fees, apprentices can begin earning straight away;
  • Learning – There is still an element of study involved so apprentices can learn the industry recognised skills that employers wan;
  • Practical – Apprenticeships involve a lot more practical and hands-on work compared to a university degree;
  • Fast – Depending on the placement, apprenticeship can often be completed quicker than a three or four year degree and see individuals in employment much sooner.

Types of apprenticeships in construction.

When compared to a university course, securing an apprenticeship is more like applying for a full-time job. Applicants must be at least 16 years old (although there is no upper age limit) and the specific apprenticeship vacancy may come with additional requirements, such as GCSEs in maths and English. With the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), apprenticeships usually last between two and four years depending on the qualifications being studied for, with the minimum wage of £95 a week although many apprentices earning considerably more.

There are many different types of apprenticeships in the construction industry, ranging from scaffolding to supervision roles, and they occur over three levels:

  • The Level 2 apprenticeship is equivalent to GCSE standard and takes two years to complete;
  • Level 3 is a three year programme equivalent to A-Level standard;
  • Level 4 is degree standard and suitable for those who wish to go into technical or management positions.

There are also specialist apprenticeships and a recently launched Level 5 programme available in Professional Practice in Construction Operations Management.

If you’re not sure which construction role is right for you, or to discover the best way of getting on to an apprenticeship scheme, your local Randstad CPE branch can offer assistance. With years of experience recruiting in the construction industry, we can help you build the career in construction you’ve always wanted.

Rail apprenticeships.

Before pursing a career in rail, the first step is to obtain a PTS (Personal Track Safety) Card. The PTS card is required for anyone who is looking to pursue a career on Network Rail Infrastructure, at any level. There are no must-have formal qualifications necessary for an entry-level role in track maintenance. 
 
In order to qualify for PTS however, those seeking employment must have a Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme (RISQS) approved company sponsor, undertake an approved medical and drugs and alcohol test and complete a PTS course. 
 
The PTS course involves an e-learning module followed by a one-day in-person assessment by a National Skills Academy for Rail (NSAR) approved training provider. There are approved medical centres and training companies countrywide, ensuring that those interested have access to a nearby site.
There are costs involved in completing a PTS course, but Sentinel Scheme Rules require these to be paid for by the sponsor. The PTS Card only allows a person to work on the railway. Experience is gained through discipline specific training, such as track maintenance for example, which will then be taught through a mixture of on-the-job mentorship and approved training courses. 
 
Those interested in track maintenance for example, would look at undergoing courses in Small Tools, Track Induction, Track Handback, Stressing, and additional safety critical Sentinel competencies, such as Site Warden/Lookout, Controller of Site Safety Course (COSS)/Safe Work Leader (SWL). 
 
Randstad’s specialist rail experts help identify talent and directly employ them via apprenticeship courses, which are delivered collaboratively with approved training partners. 

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