As a sector well and truly bitten by the Credit Crunch, it seems counter-intuitive for ConstructionSkills to be urging its industry to invest in thousands more apprentices. As the sector contracts, is there any reason to train new starters for a job that may not be there for them when they finish their apprenticeships?
But the sector skills council is taking the broad picture. While house building is in a slump, construction generally is faring better. ConstructionSkills says that thousands of new staff are still required to enter the industry each year.
Director of ConstructionSkills Apprenticeships Max Hamps, warned his industry to take a long view on skills. “It is vital that during these tough economic times valuable skills are not lost in the short term while plans are developed to ensure the skills base exists to support the expected expansion annually between 2009 and 2013.”
A message made all the more pertinent by research in the IT sector showing a sizeable leap in average salaries of those on the middle rungs of the career ladder. An annual rise of between 9.5% and 13% has been noted in the Pay in IT 2008 report by Income Data Services (IDS) for those with jobs such as IT user-support technicians and systems engineers. The reason is put down to supply and demand – there just aren't enough adequately skilled people at this level out there.
Editor of the report Ken Mulkearn, described the skills shortages as “acute” and blamed the trend for offshoring basic-level IT jobs. While cutting costs for businesses, offshoring, it seems, can be costly in the end.
Mulkearn said that the trend has led to a derth of entry-level and graduate IT jobs in the UK. Without these posts, UK companies aren't developing staff with the skills needed further up the career ladder.
When times are hard, training budgets often feel the brunt of economic slowdown, but as these cases show, when it comes to developing those at the foot of the career ladder, business must also take the long view.