Shining a light on apprenticeships

Shining a light on apprenticeships

Last week saw the annual celebration of National Apprenticeship Week. The theme for 2023 was ‘Skills for Life’ and the week reflected on how apprenticeships could help individuals to develop the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career and help businesses to develop a talented workforce that is equipped with skills for the future.

The week brought together businesses and apprentices across the country to shine a light on the positive impact that apprenticeships make to individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

To be interactive and engaged with our members, FIS published daily polls, following the themes of the day to understand members awareness of apprenticeships. Our poll results were inspiring and positive, demonstrating that FIS is working hard for its members to ensure they have the most up to date information and support on apprenticeships.

The results indicated we are getting the message out about apprenticeships, however, we could do more to influence our members in relation to those who may be hesitant to take apprentices on. 80% of businesses that took part in our poll have recruited an apprentice in the past and 57% are considering hiring an apprentice.

The FIS skills team will be proactive and follow up with those who were not quite sure about taking on apprentices (43%) to discuss benefits they bring, and any funding attached.

FIS has links with many education institutions, where member views are represented to make a change in the sector. It is good news that the Interior Systems Installer apprenticeship is preparing to be reviewed, with input from our members taken on board to ensure it is fit for purpose and adds value.

An area where a little more work is required is the awareness around T- Levels, with 55% of respondents not aware what a T-Level is. T-Levels are relatively new to the sector and FIS is on hand to offer advice and guidance to its members on how these qualifications can be integrated into their organisation to fill the skills gaps.

National Apprenticeship Week is an important tool in raising the profile of apprenticeships with schools, parents and young people who may not have considered apprenticeships as a viable career route. The week also highlights the value apprentices bring to employers. Our members who have recruited apprentices, have found great value and pride in making a difference to participants.

FIS is a great believer in celebrating success and showcasing the great benefits that apprentices bring to individuals and employers is no different.  We have celebrated apprentices at our recent awards, where apprentices have won and shone a light on how undertaking an apprenticeship has enabled them to fulfil their ambitions and how they have been successful in their achievements.

Skills Hub

The Skills Hub provides information on sector careers, apprenticeships and funding, as well as access to e-learning, CPD and other training. It also brings together details of courses specific to the finishes and interiors sector, making accessing and booking training quick and easy.

CPA seeks SME contractor perspective for development of construction products competence standard at BSI

CPA seeks SME contractor perspective for development of construction products competence standard at BSI

Last year, the Construction Products Association (CPA) published the document Built Environment – Proposed construction product competence standard – white paper, proposing new competence requirements for all those using or otherwise working with construction products, and is now gearing up to develop a British Standard at BSI. This standard is due to have impact on the entire supply chain, and the CPA is keen to have input in the development from small contractors as well as large to ensure its practicality and usability.

The CPA is seeking a voluntary perspective to join the development group. The project will likely last between 18 months to two years, and though meeting frequency and input will vary according to the task, it will likely have a meeting at least once a month for two hours. The CPA appreciates that SME contractors may have limited resources, so would be willing to have a conversation exploring options as to levels of contribution.

To enquire about the position, or for further information, please contact Hanna Clarke by COP 3 March 2023.

Young workers’ safety highlighted during National Apprentice Week

Young workers’ safety highlighted during National Apprentice Week

National Apprenticeship Week is a timely reminder to enusre young workers are receiving the training and supervision they need. Workers are as likely to have an accident in the first 6 months at a workplace as they are during the whole of the rest of their working life.

Apprentices could be facing unfamiliar risks and are more likely to be new to the workplace. The HSE website has information on health and safety for apprentices. There is also a wide range of guidance on its young people at work website, including:

Apprenticeship Reviews in England and Scotland

Apprenticeship Reviews in England and Scotland

The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) are in the process of reviewing the English apprenticeship standard for Plasterer. The latest update indicates a level 3 apprenticeship outcome is being considered for Plasterers.

Following the outcome of the Plasterer apprenticeship review and some cliches in the End Point Assessment, the Interior Systems Installer Apprenticeship standard will be reviewed this year. At the time of writing no start date has been indicated. Skills Development Scotland is reviewing the Apprenticeship Framework for Interior Systems, to be known as Fitting Building Interiors. To find out more and register for either the Employee Workshops or, Technical Expert Groups, please respond direct to or, register your details using the link below

Although Trailblazer and Technical Groups are in place for these occupations FIS are forwarding details of employers wishing to be involved in these reviews. If you are interested please contact or providing your contact details and stating which nation and which occupation, we will be happy to help.

Reminder issued to avoid further competency crisis

Reminder issued to avoid further competency crisis

The Construction Leadership Council have issued a statement encouraging and reminding Industry Accreditation card holders to take action to retain their card in light of changes to “grandfather rights” that will be implemented from the end of 2024.  The statement issued was: 

CLC Statement on Industry Accreditation Cards
Building Safety and competence are two of the CLC’s priorities. As an industry, and in accordance with various sets of legislation including the Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM) and the Building Safety Act, we must demonstrate to the regulator, our clients, building occupiers and the wider public that those designing, building and maintaining the built environment are competent to do so. The CLC recommendation introduced in 2015 and updated in 2017 and 2020 set an expectation of all CSCS cards being achieved via qualification by the end of 2024.

The different ways in which those individuals who hold a blue, gold or black industry accreditation card (issued by CSCS, via industry accreditation) can move to an appropriate card has been set out. This may be by:

Recognising a qualification they already have.

  • Assessing their competence against the relevant qualification for their occupation.
  • Undertaking any additional training required.
  • For a minority, it may require more extensive training.

Whilst all Industry Accreditation cardholders are required to take action to retain their card from January 2025, it should not be overly onerous for those able to demonstrate their competence and there may be grants and funding available for employers.

Commenting on the upcoming changes and new guidance FIS Skills and Training Lead George Swann stated:

“Companies need to be checking now how their workers are qualified and when this will expire.  As competency checking ramps up in the wake of new legislative requirements, we don’t want to find a new raft of workers becoming unavailable due to administration issues rather than ability.  A green labourer card is not the answer, your skilled workers need to show verifiable proof of competence for their employed occupation to meet the requirements of legislation.  If you need any help getting your workers qualified and carded appropriately for the work they are doing contact the FIS.  The FIS network of Training Provider members give offers and discounts to fellow members you may be surprised at how your FIS membership can support your employees and organisations proof of competence.”

All Industry Accreditation (IA) cards issued from 1 Jan 2020 will expire on 31 Dec 2024 and cannot be renewed.  This guidance is designed to help you understand your next steps to replace your card.  What you need to do next depends on your occupation and what qualifications you may hold.  If you do not visit site regularly, or you have moved into an office-based role you may no longer require a card.  Those needing to obtain a qualification DO NOT need to attend college. The SVQ/NVQ (S/NVQ) can be achieved via various routes and CITB grants may be available.

Further guidance for Industry Accreditation card holders is available at

For more information please visit the Sector Guide to a Competency Management plan

Demand for construction workers high despite economic uncertainty

Demand for construction workers high despite economic uncertainty

Against a backdrop of economic challenge, rising materials and labour costs, new figures from CITB reveal that almost 225,000 extra workers will be required to meet UK construction demand by 2027.

CITB’s annual Construction Skills Network (CSN) report shows that:
• 224,900 extra workers (44,980 a year) will be needed to meet UK construction demand between now and 2027
• Construction output is set to grow for all nations and regions, however, recession is expected in 2023 with slow growth returning in 2024
• The major sectors for demand are: – private housing – infrastructure – repair and maintenance
• If projected growth is met, by 2027 the number of people working in construction will be 2.67m

The report highlights that construction is expected to remain a sector where there is demand for workers despite the current economic uncertainty. As a result, recruitment, training, development and upskilling remain major priorities for the industry for 2023 and beyond.

CITB is responding by investing in apprenticeships, launching a range of targeted initiatives and working collaboratively with industry, to help the construction sector have a skilled, competent, and inclusive workforce.

Tim Balcon, CITB Chief Executive said:

“The latest CSN report clearly shows that despite current economic uncertainty, recruiting and developing the workforce remains vital to ensure the industry can contribute to economic growth.

We know the next 18 months won’t be easy, however, I remain inspired by the construction industry’s resilience shown in the pandemic and throughout 2022.

In short, it makes clear that the need to recruit and retain talent in the sector has never been greater. Whether that’s for building the homes the country needs, constructing energy and transport infrastructure or retrofitting the built environment to help drive down energy bills and meet net zero targets.

To bolster industry’s resilience, CITB will strive to attract and train a diverse range of recruits for industry, equipping them with modern skills for rewarding construction careers. I look forward to working with and supporting industry and stakeholders in the challenging times ahead and to emerging stronger when the recession ends.”

To help directly address these challenges and maximise the opportunities which will arise, CITB has invested almost £50m of Levy to support over 22,000 apprentices to help them join the industry; while grants have helped support over 16,000 learners to complete their qualifications.

Direct funding has provided grants over 269,000 training courses and in total £97m has been invested in grant funding by CITB, to make it as easy as possible for employers to recruit and retain their skilled workforce.

CITB continues to provide targeted support to SMEs through grant and funding and through support in accessing training and funding. Since April 2022, CITB’s engagement team has supported SMEs on 26,976 occasions, supporting them to continue to train during the current economic uncertainty.

CITB also offers funding aimed specifically at smaller companies such as the Skills and Training Fund. Companies with fewer than 250 PAYE employees can access up to £25,000 annually (depending on their size). By the end of quarter two 2022, £3.9m had been invested in companies via this fund.

CITB’s Scottish Academy for Construction Opportunities (SACO) commission has awarded £1.3m across the Highlands and Islands; while England Construction Opportunities (ECO) commission has awarded a total of just over £1.8m. This investment will directly help address the construction industry’s skills gap, increase employment retention, and provide vital support to new starters at the beginning of their construction careers, by promoting work experience for new entrants to the industry.

Experience Hubs across England and Wales are creating a talent pipeline to meet the needs of local construction employers and to support construction career opportunities for people from local communities.

Further CITB initiatives range from localised solutions for funding and training like our employer network pilot project, available to more than 3,800 levy-registered construction businesses across five locations in England, Scotland and Wales; to a £10.5m Leadership and Management commission which will provide funded courses for businesses of all sizes to equip supervisors and managers with a recognised Leadership and Management qualification.

Training remains a key focus, which is why CITB has invested in National Construction College (NCC) sites, to meet the industry’s specialist training needs. By focusing the curriculum on unmet demand, we are looking to build capacity for the industry, which has resulted in a 25% increase in the number of people trained to date. Our data shows that 96% of CITB apprentices have secured employment or progressed in education, with over 90% remaining in the sector.

Tim Balcon concluded:

“This coordinated and comprehensive approach to helping recruit, train, develop and upskill talent, whilst continuing to work collaboratively with industry and stakeholders means CITB will continue to play a central role in supporting an industry that is a key driver of the UK economy through these challenging times.”

FIS conducts census to support skills work

To help support this work, FIS is conducting a census of its workforce via its Skills Pulse Survey. This census will provide vital data to help understand where we are at now, target resources, support representational work and provide a framework for organisations to benchmark, and FIS to measure impact and progress.