Apprenticeship shortage 'could spell disaster'

Chronic shortages of skilled workers could spell disaster for the construction and engineering industries, a leading union warned today.

Unite called on the Government to speed up training of young people, warning there had been a "marked drop" in the number of apprentices in the two sectors.

Assistant general secretary Les Bayliss said: "Overall apprenticeships may be growing, but in the construction and engineering sectors numbers fell dramatically during the downturn.

"At a time when school leavers are finding it tougher to find apprenticeships in construction, the most effective way for Government to intervene is to use its procurement power and leverage on the public sector and infrastructure projects to make apprenticeships a priority.

"We want to see new and existing firms who have long standing and terrific records in investing in apprentices rewarded in future procurement and contracts within the supply chain in public sector projects."

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