Apprentices tackling national skills gap and housing shortage are recognised

The UK’s fastest bricklayer has praised the talents of more than one hundred apprentices at the National House Building Council’s (NHBC) latest graduation ceremony in Milton Keynes.

Held at the UK’s leading warranty and insurance providers NHBC Headquarters in Knowlhill, Milton Keynes, on Friday 16 February 2024, YouTube sensation and Super Trowels Bricklaying Competition winner, Charlie Collison, said apprentices are key to the housing industry’s future and urged more people to consider a career in the sector.

“What NHBC and its national network of bricklaying hubs is achieving is vital if we’re going to close the skills gap and housing shortage we are facing,” Charlie said. “Each NHBC Training Hub across the country is enabling 100 apprentices to be trained by experienced tutors each year, enabling house builders to create a flow of new talent onto sites. It’s a great start to begin to address the skills gap in house building, the impact of which cannot be underestimated. The research is showing the need for an additional 225,000 construction workers in the UK by 2027 – that’s a staggering 45,000 per year.

“When this is considered alongside recent reports that builders are struggling to recruit bricklayers, it becomes clear just how important it is for the house-building industry to attract more people from all backgrounds to bricklaying. It also highlights how significant it is to have so many accomplished bricklayers here with us today,” Charlie said.

Amongst those recognised was Jack Hart, 17, Leicestershire, bricklaying apprentice who trained at NHBC’s Training Hub in Tamworth. Jack, who passed with a distinction was today awarded NHBC Apprentice Bricklayer of the Year. Jack said a career in the housing industry offers so many opportunities.

“Training at the NHBC Training Hub, meant I had leading experts teaching me real on-site experience from just five weeks in and my apprenticeship was completed in just 18 months. That’s a standout difference compared to 30 months which it can take through more traditional routes,” said Jack.

“I would recommend an apprenticeship at one of NHBC’s Training Hubs as it’s a great way to learn. I’ve not only gained bricklaying skills, but I’ve expanded my people skills and learnt a lot about communication. I knew I wanted to learn about bricklaying so the opportunity to do this while also still earning money was really attractive to me. People are often surprised to learn the average bricklayer earns 50 thousand pounds a year. An apprenticeship in bricklaying is a pathway to a really well-paid and greatly varied career in the housebuilding industry. I’d encourage everyone to consider it."

Since becoming a registered apprenticeship provider in 2020, around 450 people have progressed through NHBC’s Bricklaying Training Hubs. Also recognised at the ceremony were students studying with NHBC for apprenticeships in Construction Site Supervision and various other housebuilding roles.

Stephanie Black, 23, Northampton, who was awarded NHBC’s Construction Site Supervisor Apprentice of the Year.

Stephanie said: “An apprenticeship in house building is for everyone!” We must attract the widest pool of talent and people from all backgrounds to take up an apprenticeship in the house-building industry to help address the nationwide skills gap and housing shortage. I took on such a varied, interesting and demanding apprenticeship, and have gained such extensive knowledge and expertise in a wide variety of topics. I’m looking forward to what I hope to be a great career ahead which offers many opportunities and makes a real difference.”

Darryl Stewart, responsible for NHBC’s apprentice training programme and training hubs, said, it’s encouraging to see people entering a career in housebuilding but there’s still more to do.

“In recent years, house builders have found it more challenging to recruit people for a range of reasons. It’s an industry which is facing an ageing workforce and has been seen as a career path mainly for men.  

This means we must continue to find ways to encourage people from all walks of life to join the sector as it offers a fantastic range of careers and an apprenticeship in the house-building industry is a pathway into a rewarding and well-paid career that can make a real difference.

“At NHBC, our apprenticeships and training programmes and our growing network of national NHBC Training Hubs, are getting more people started in the industry and helping to close the skills gap by training the next generation of house builders. Our house-building apprenticeships are an excellent alternative to the more traditional educational routes with our courses designed with input from across the industry and leading experts. It’s fantastic to see this latest cohort today of over 100 apprentices being equipped with skills for life which they can take forward and use to build high-quality new homes.

NHBC’s apprenticeships are for everyone and we’re delighted to see people from all backgrounds coming through, including women, career changers, diverse cultures and school leavers wanting to work in house building. It’s never too late to learn a new skill!” Darryl said.

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