CITB’s new entrant employer support manager, Leanne Land, tells NFB more.

Supporting construction’s people pipeline
Construction is an industry full of opportunity; it has well-paid, highly skilled roles for people of all ages and backgrounds.
However, research from our latest Construction Skills Network (CSN) report shows that the industry is still facing a long-term challenge in recruiting workers, with an additional 225,000 workers needed to meet demand by 2027.
With a high level of job vacancies and low unemployment, recruiting and developing the workforce for the future remains vital to ensure the industry can contribute to growth. This includes building the infrastructure for energy and transport, the homes the industry needs, and retrofitting the built environment to meet net zero targets. The CSN report indicates that the most in-demand construction roles, from 2023-27, will be for architects, civil engineers, and trade plant operators, all of which will see annual average growth over 1%.
It’s evident that construction needs a stronger pipeline of talent, and – with the way that construction roles are progressing and evolving – it will be essential to attract new recruits from a wider pool, with a more diverse range of skills.

Overcoming recruitment barriers
Unfortunately, there are barriers to attracting, recruiting, and retaining new talent.
The construction industry has a reputation for being muddy, manual, and male, and research shows that just 30% of potential new recruits feel that construction is ‘for them.’ The Go Construct website, an industry initiative supported by the CITB Levy, assists efforts to breakdown stereotypes and misconceptions, but there is still a lot of work to be done in this area.
CITB’s Rethinking Recruitment report also highlights how current recruitment methods are creating obstacles for many potential new entrants. The report states that construction workers are more likely to have found a job through their personal network and word of mouth, rather than a competitive application. If workers without the right personal contacts don’t get a chance to apply, the industry misses out on their talent.
This is just one of the many reasons why it’s important to ensure that support is available both for new entrants, and employers. Construction companies have told CITB that they need more support with understanding, in particular, apprenticeships; including knowing how to support an apprentice or trainee in work and finding the right provider for them. As a direct response to these challenges, CITB has introduced the New Entrant Support Team (NEST) in England.

Introducing NEST
Feedback tells us that many employers, particularly Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), find the process of hiring an apprentice or a trainee complicated and time consuming. This new team has been created to take the hassle out of hiring and provide practical support to employers at every step.

Recruitment
The team will signpost you to useful resources and help you advertise your apprenticeship vacancy on Talentview to attract potential candidates. We’ll help you get the right apprentice.

Training
The team will help you find the right course and the right training provider. They will also work with you to understand how to support your new recruit throughout their studies.

CITB Funding
The team will make sure you’re set up to receive the CITB apprenticeship grants:

• Attendance grant: £2,500 (per year, per apprentice)

• Achievement grant: £3,500 (on successful completion of the apprenticeship)

Admin
You’ll also be supported with the paperwork. The team will liaise with the training provider, support you to access government funding, and so much more; ensuring you can focus on the job.

Retention
The support doesn’t end once you have hired an apprentice. The NEST team of advisors will provide ongoing mentoring support to ensure your apprentice has everything they need to achieve, and become a fully-fledged employee on completion.

From sourcing an applicant, accessing funding, finding a suitable training provider, and gaining grants, the New Entrant Support Team can get you the help you need. Since the team was first piloted in September 2022, it has supported over 800 new starts and is currently working with more than 1,000 employers to support their September/October apprenticeship recruitment.

Delivering vital support
David Southgate from DCS Building & Joinery, said: “I am not the best with computer technology, filling in forms, attaching documents to emails etc. so your help and assistance with this has been fantastic.
“The service you have provided me has been excellent; talked me through emails, forms to fill in etc., making sure I am getting them in on time. Your courtesy calls have been really appreciated, I think this is what’s needed to help the employer keep on top of things, as there is a lot of paperwork involved – you make it that much easier.
“I also appreciate the courtesy calls regarding the employee to see how he is doing with his training. His training is going very well, he is learning very quickly and is very punctual, friendly, and approachable, and is a good young lad. These courtesy calls are what we need.”
Scott Emerson, Academy Coach at Re:Gen Group, said: “The support that we are receiving is nothing short of top class! Not only do you help with managing the grants, you also advise on what we are potentially missing out on that could really help the academy move forward!
“The 13-week courtesy calls and monthly meetings have been invaluable, and long may our fantastic working relationship continue.”
Jayne Greaves, Apprentice Co-ordinator at Cara Brickwork, said: “The support Cara Group has received from the newly established New Entrant Support Team at CITB has been invaluable in sorting our Apprenticeship grants. They have supported us in making sure all the relevant paperwork is in place to ensure we receive the maximum amount of grant.
The development of this new team certainly makes the process so much simpler, and we will continue to access their support during the recruitment and set up of our 2023 Apprentice intake.”

Retaining talent
One of the main benefits of helping employers get recruitment right from the outset, is that it increases the likelihood of retaining new entrants within industry over the long term.
A key part of this involves ensuring that employers are equipped with the skills needed to best support their learners, providing useful resources and guidance on further training they can complete. The team is currently promoting a CITB mentoring standard, launched earlier this year, known as the work-based mentor introduction.
The course will enable employers to offer constructive feedback to apprentices, as well as to support their wellbeing and provide pastoral guidance and signposting, where relevant.

Optimistic for the future
While there is a lot of work to be done, construction is a resilient industry.
I am hugely encouraged by forecasts of a predicted upturn in 2024, alongside the great results already being produced by the New Entrant Support Team. This work is already making considerable headway towards our goals of increasing apprenticeship starts and the number of employers who access CITB support.
If you’re considering hiring an apprentice or trainee and not sure where to begin, I urge you to get in touch with us.

You can contact the team here: newentrant.team@citb.co.uk