Wiltshire College and University Centre Principal has hit back strongly to a claim by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) that skills shortage are the result of the government’s Apprenticeship Levy.

The FMB claimed the latest statistics released by the Department for Education show the number of new construction apprenticeship starts for January 2019 fell to 950, compared with 1,216 the previous year.

Starts for Level 2 apprenticeships, equivalent to GCSE level, dropped to 555 in January, 2019, from 712 in January, 2018.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “These latest statistics point to a serious failure of the Government’s Apprenticeship Levy: 64% of construction firms are struggling to hire carpenters and joiners, and 61% can’t find bricklayers.”

“The construction industry is facing a cliff-edge when it comes to skill shortages, we will not be able to continue growing and delivering on the Government’s housing and infrastructure targets if this state of affairs continues.”

But Amanda Burnside, Wiltshire college Principal and Chief Executive, replied: “Wiltshire College is seeing significant apprenticeship growth and we are currently working with more than 1,500 apprentices in 39 industry sectors, and have more than 700 employers with apprentices  – ranging from very small local businesses to multinational companies right across Wiltshire.

“It is increasingly apparent to us that Wiltshire employers are engaging with apprentices as a solution to the skills shortages and we are happy to talk in detail to any employer who would like to move to this successful training model.”

Wiltshire College & University Centre has campuses in Chippenham, Lackham, Salisbury and Trowbridge.

Website: wiltshire.ac.uk

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