Plea to take on more apprentices

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Investment in new developments across Bedfordshire will be integral to supporting the 67,000 young people Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) in the East of England, according to leading contractor, Wates Construction.

Using National Apprenticeship Week (7-10 March) to make the call to action, the contractor is urging its built environment peers to join Wates in ramping up training programmes for young people.

Wates has made the move to ignite the skills debate in Bedfordshire following the Government’s release of its NEET quarterly brief. This has shown a 17% reduction in 16 to 24 year old NEETs in the East of England, falling from 81,000 in Q3 2016 to 67,000 in Q4 2016*.

Ian Vickers, Managing Director, Wates Construction Home Counties, said: “The decrease in young people not in education, employment or training in the East of England is an encouraging sign that more opportunities are being created across the board, but we must not rest on our laurels. More must be done by the region’s industries to keep this momentum going and ensure that these numbers continue to fall.

“Investment in new developments in the region, supported by increasing economic activity in Bedfordshire, is an integral opportunity that we should maximise. Not only must we work together to train young people but we should also go further to support their education, to inspire and encourage more school leavers to consider a career in the region’s built environment industry.”

Wates’ focus on engaging young people in its work in Bedfordshire has included an extensive programme of apprenticeships, work experience placements and school and college engagement programmes as part of its construction of new schools on behalf of Luton Borough Council.

Across the build programme, 90 apprentices joined Wates and its local supply chain partners, while site-based construction ambassadors carried out career mentoring events with local schools and colleges. Site visits were held for a range of educational ages and 65 work experience placements were created.

Ian continues: “To have maximum impact, investment in the future workforce needs to comprise a diverse combination of training, mentoring, educational engagement and industry insight and this is just what we set out to achieve in Luton. We are now looking to how we can build upon this success to support even more young people and we strongly urge our industry partners to do the same.”