In the wide ranging meeting covering funding and training quality, Mr Hancock agreed with the ECA that local authorities need better guidance on incorporating apprenticeships into the procurement process. He advised that the National Apprenticeship Service is currently developing guidelines in a bid to boost apprenticeship recruitment.
At present, authorities can specify that a contractor must take on a certain number of local apprentices as part of a construction contract. However, this process can do more harm than good. If the project finishes before a trainee completes their apprenticeship, they can’t always transfer to a different framework, even in a neighbouring borough, leaving them unable to qualify.
The forthcoming guidance aims to help local authorities work with contractors throughout the supply chain to ensure that any apprenticeship conditions in their procurement contracts promote recruitment, are realistic and address local skills needs. The ECA is working with stakeholders to help ensure the guidance is practical and can be easily applied.
Iain Macdonald, ECA head of education and training, said, ‘The issue of apprenticeships in procurement is an issue that affects contractors of all sizes and in all disciplines, so it must be tackled urgently. Once the guidance is published, we hope that local authorities, and indeed housing associations, use it so that where there is work, there will be meaningful and lasting training.’
Macdonald added, ‘As a body representing employers in a key part of the supply chain, this was an important opportunity to raise industry views on skills, and to find the Minister so open to our concerns over training provision. We trust that our input will be valuable in building a strong training legacy that Britain can be proud of.’