Apprentices are victims of the credit crunch

As the crisis deepens, students are dropping out of courses and building firms are taking on fewer apprentices.

When Mark Rood began his apprenticeship in electrical installation at Eastleigh College a year ago, he could never have believed that, just 12 months later, he would be a victim of the credit crunch.

During the summer, the electrical firm near Southampton where he worked went into liquidation. Instead of resuming his course this September, 17-year-old Mark found a full-time job with a wholesale company. "I can't carry on at college because I need to find another apprenticeship," he says. "As it was so late in the year, all the apprenticeships were gone."

Last year, Mark attended college for one week each month. He was expecting to continue there part-time for another year before completing his apprenticeship on-site. Now he faces a 12-month wait before picking up the course. "It's really disappointing because I worked really hard for a year," he adds. "It's going to take even longer to get qualified."

Mark's case is a relatively rare one. Since August, Eastleigh has enrolled 1,600 apprentices and other part-time students on construction courses and expects this to double by next summer. "We've not seen any less demand," says Graham Goddard, deputy director for teaching and learning.

Other centres are reporting problems, however. Blackburn College switched two apprentices – a joiner and an electrician – to full-time courses after they were made redundant. Meanwhile, just four apprentices enrolled on a first-year plumbing course instead of the usual 15.

Howard Sharples, deputy head of construction, says that employers will be even less keen to take on apprentices over the winter – meaning that more students will study full-time and gain technical certificates. "They can't do an NVQ because they are not employed in the workplace," he explains.

At Highbury College in Portsmouth, six apprentices have called to say their jobs are at risk and they may not return for a second year. Gas service companies are among the firms most affected, says Dee John, the college's executive director. If alternative employment is impossible, the college will offer them full-time places. But that is not always ideal. "They want to be earning and studying part-time," says John. "We hope that anything we provide is a stop-gap, but the danger is that we will lose them from the sector completely."

The Construction Skills Network says about 42,000 new recruits will be needed annually between 2009 and 2013 – this is less than half the figure it forecasted last year. About 100 people have so far been assisted by a clearing house, set up by the Government with Construction Skills, to help ensure that apprentices can continue their training and find jobs.

Steve Geary, skills strategy director at the sector-run council, says it is often tricky to find enough employers to take apprentices, regardless of the state of the housing market. "Our message to house builders is that they should keep hold of their apprentices for as long as they can." Although full-time courses are an alternative, they do not offer the same breadth of training. "For an apprenticeship to be meaningful, it has to include work-based experience," he adds.

Although the construction industry is in trouble, firms still require skilled workers for large commercial projects. Weymouth College has seen a strong demand from companies involved in developing facilities for Olympic yachting events in 2012.

The number of under-19s on full-time courses at Weymouth is down slightly this year to 150, but adult numbers have risen from 40 to 60 as employers become more selective. "People who were doing a bit of chippying on building sites are finding that work is scarce and employers are starting to ask for qualifications," says John Firth, its head of construction.

Southport College has 70 students taking bricklaying courses, in line with other years. But it acknowledges that the market is changing and, this summer, it encouraged students who were preparing for their second year to find experience with firms that are involved in a range of activities, not just house building.

Through a national diploma in construction, the college offers the opportunity to take on new roles, including management posts. "We can't just say there is a credit crunch and nobody wants bricklayers," says Christine Bampton, Southport's head of construction. "We must ensure that students have progression routes and find the jobs that are out there."

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Primary teaching roles in Ipswich

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education re...

Science teachers needed in Norwich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Science teachers requ...

English teachers required in Lowestoft

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified English tea...

Primary Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Experienced Primary Teachers We are curr...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits