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The Government’s recent announcement that all contract bids for public sector construction projects over £10 million must include a commitment to apprenticeship training has been widely welcomed – not least by the smaller firms that have supported that route into the industry for so long -

As a construction PR agency that works across the sector supply and delivery chain, we’ve had numerous conversations with our own clients about how much they invest in training young people, only to have them poached by larger players once they’re fully trained and have some useful experience under their belt.

The bottom line is that we all have to start somewhere and the UK has two conflicting crises: a skills gap that is causing pay inflation in many sectors, particularly construction, and a lost generation of youth with no skills, no jobs and no prospects because so few companies are prepared to invest in training.

As someone who has benefitted both from someone else’s willingness to train me and my own investment in training others, I can see from both sides the value that a genuine commitment to training can bring.

While many larger companies see it as an onerous overhead that takes both financial and physical resources, in reality it’s an opportunity to mould future employees in terms of both skills and culture. It is not an obligation, it is a transaction from which both parties benefit.

The public sector is responsible for almost 40 per cent of all construction output in the UK, which equates to significant purchasing power. I’m delighted to hear that this power will be harnessed to oblige the sector to invest in training and develop a new generation of skilled workers.

I’m also slightly saddened that those goals should have to be imposed as an obligation rather than manifesting as part of a common sense business continuity culture. Experience may be a very valuable commodity but it’s much more valuable if it’s been nurtured rather than simply acquired.

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