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Apprenticeships ‘must be a priority’

Britain’s biggest trade union has called on the government to make tackling the construction industry’s “chronic skills shortages” through the provision of more apprenticeships a top priority.

Unite assistant general secretary Les Bayliss said although the overall number of trainee builders, electricians and plumbers rose last year, recruitment in the construction and engineering sectors fell sharply during the downturn.

He added the industries now have the oldest workforces since the Second World War.

In 1990, more than a third (36 per cent) of construction workers were under 30 years old. Today, this is down to 25 per cent.

Mr. Bayliss welcomed government plans to step up financial and logistical support for training announced as part of National Apprenticeship Week, but warned that its implementation needs to be fast-tracked if the UK is to avert a “skills disaster”.

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