Careers, Opinion and Partner Content

Apprentices can build a safer future

The apprenticeship levy can help the industry train staff in building safety, says Ashley Wheaton
UCEM logo University College of Estate Management

The construction industry is currently experiencing a very real lack of appropriately qualified staff, particularly in the important area of building safety. The good news is that the industry already holds part of the solution: its passionate and dedicated workers. A key message from the Hackitt report, written after the tragic event of Grenfell, was that these professionals working in building safety need appropriate qualifications to inform the work that they are doing.

University College of Estate Management (UCEM) gets to play its part in realising a safer built environment through education. Our academic team worked with a supportive employer base to create our BSc (Hons) in Building Control, Building Control Surveyor degree apprenticeship and Construction Site Management degree apprenticeship.

Employers now have the opportunity to lead the industry in the right direction by ensuring their staff are suitably qualified. I’m aware that the covid-19 pandemic continues to be disruptive, however, I would argue that it’s an opportune time to be looking at the potential of your staff and investing in them, with many employees currently using this time to evaluate their career options.

“It’s an opportune time to be looking at the potential of your staff and investing in them”

With the apprenticeship levy in place, there is little room for the argument that educating staff is too expensive. Smaller businesses only need to pay 5% of the training costs for an apprenticeship programme, and larger ones can use their levy pot for 100% of training costs.

I also hope that the industry is fully aware by now that apprenticeships can be used as a means to train any employee, not just college leavers. I’m delighted that UCEM currently has 89 apprentices aged 40-60 studying with us, proving that it’s never too late to learn.

Helping to ensure that our buildings are safe has never been more important. A key priority therefore, is to ensure that the people who are responsible for safety in our industry have the necessary training and qualifications needed so that they can play their part in providing the highest quality buildings for both current and future generations.

For further information about employing an apprentice visit:

Ashley Wheaton is a principal at University College of Estate Management.

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