Minister declares UK is ‘hungry for skills’, urging employers to back apprenticeships

Hungry for skills

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Alex Burghart MP declared the UK economy is “hungry for skills” at a construction and engineering conference during National Apprenticeship Week.

Mr Burghart praised Capital City College Group (CCCG), which hosted the event, and employers for providing valuable careers and training opportunities when he spoke on 9 February.

CCCG’s apprenticeship and training provider Capital City College Training (CCCT) works with 950 employers to provide high-quality training to 2,000 apprentices each year.

Around 50 representatives from the construction and engineering industries attended the event at Westminster Kingsway College, which is also part of CCCG along with City and Islington College and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL).

Companies and organisations in attendance included Alstom, Ardmore, Hitachi, CBRE, CITB, Denbre, Berkeley Group, North London Waste Authority, Mitie, Peabody, AECOM, Bowmer and Kirkland, Taylor Woodrow, Vistry Partnerships, Wates, McLaren, TfL, Perfect Welding, Building Heroes, the Greater London Authority, Enfield Council, Islington Council and the Royal Academy for Engineering.

CCCT works with employers across London to offer apprenticeship training in brickwork, plumbing, electrical installations, engineering and rail engineering.

Mr Burghart says: “It’s been a real pleasure for me going around the country meeting scores of people in different stages of their careers and lives who are really benefitting from this extraordinary way of working, whose time is really coming again.

“I don’t remember a time in my lifetime when the economy was so hungry for skills. We’ve got over a million vacancies out there, we’ve got a huge host of opportunities for people to take advantage of, and it’s going to be apprenticeships that are going to help people make the jump into those opportunities.”

Dr Rhys Morgan, Director of Engineering and Education at the Royal Academy of Engineering, called on employers to support the development of T Levels and apprenticeships, and spoke of the need to recruit a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

He says: “We have to make these qualifications work, they are here to stay. I hope you will continue to work with CCCG and the wider education sector to embrace these qualifications and support our young people, who really need to help with the net-zero skills challenges and the economy.”

Construction and engineering apprenticeship training predominantly takes place at CONEL’s large, fully equipped workshops at its centres in Tottenham and Enfield.

The college’s Enfield Centre is home to the London Rail Academy and new London Welding Academy run in partnership with Paddington, part of construction giant Ardmore.

Adrian White, General Manager at Ardmore, comments: “Ardmore Group has long been committed to providing opportunities for local people to train in well-paid, highly-skilled jobs, and the London Welding Academy is a brilliant example of that.

“We’re delighted to have been able to open this academy within a matter of months, meaning we can develop our own committed and motivated workforce.”

The London Rail Academy provides apprenticeship training with large employers including Alstom, Hitachi, Eurostar, Docklands Light Railway and London Underground.

CONEL also provides rail track maintenance apprenticeships with London Underground.

Alstom has been training apprentices with CONEL for more than four years on its rail technician training programme.

Alstom apprentice Brandon Hargreaves, 23, says: “Working with the teachers at CONEL has allowed me to learn so much and excel in a subject I am passionate about. Being thrown into the reality of the working world in London has been an amazing experience.”

Lee Bird, Learning and Development Apprenticeship Manager at Alstom, adds: “What makes CONEL different from other providers is that they listen to our requirements and have the expertise to modify the apprenticeship content and delivery to meet our business needs.”

CONEL has recently partnered with Enfield Council and Vistry Partnerships to run a new Skills Academy to provide construction training for the Meridian Water regeneration project, which will build 10,000 new homes in Enfield.

CCCT’s provision also includes employability courses with organisations including Women into Construction to provide more opportunities for women to enter the sector.

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