Employers urged to work together

ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council for the construction industry will launch a pilot Group Training Association (GTA) project in Merseyside to help save apprentices and protect the future skillset of the industry. The initiative, known as ‘Constructing the Future Merseyside’, will be led by Liverpool Housing Trust and a number of Regional Clients.

Set up in direct response to the economic downturn, GTAs are a unique training model which allow employers to share the costs of apprentices in order to prevent skills shortages. The GTA removes the traditional barriers to apprentice recruitment and allows organisations to help spread the costs of training during difficult economic times.

Working with the national Apprentice Matching Service and regional providers in the Merseyside area, the GTA has identified displaced apprentices and will employ and support them with paid work for 52 weeks, enabling the trainee to complete their Level 2 or 3 NVQ. GTA project teams will also seek to secure employment opportunities for apprentices upon qualification.

ConstructionSkills’ GTA pilot in Merseyside aims to see 78 apprentices from the Merseyside region complete their current framework and find 27 qualified apprentices permanent jobs in the pilot phase through to July 2011. Employers signed up to the GTA will be expected to keep their contract, mentoring trainees whilst providing workplace opportunities and honouring their college commitments.

Mike Bialyj, Employer Services Director for ConstructionSkills said: “The economic downturn has created huge challenges for the construction industry and when firms are cutting costs, young apprentices are often the first casualties. It is therefore essential that we support businesses in maintaining and taking on apprentices if we are to avoid future skills shortages – something the industry failed to do during the last recession, with dire consequences still felt today. The GTA in Merseyside is just one of a number of initiatives by ConstructionSkills to offer employment to previously displaced apprentices, with the wider Apprenticeship Matching Service now having secured employers for 448 trainees since its launch in 2009 with a further 106 apprentices being retained by their existing employers due to interventions.”

Roy Cavanagh, Training Manager for Seddon Group said: “The GTA Scheme is a much needed stimulus to employing and, more importantly, qualifying young people in the NW Region. There are continual reports of skills shortages within construction in this country whilst the colleges are full of full time construction trainees unable to find a work placement opportunity. This worthwhile project will make the most of sub regional construction opportunities, removing the traditional barriers associated with apprentice recruitment for contractors. I wholly support this project and Seddon Group will be engaging across the NW region on this initiative.”

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