Questionmarks over the future of apprenticeships at the City of Bristol College have sent shockwaves through the city’s construction industry.
Currently rated ‘inadequate’ by OFSTED, City of Bristol College has not been included on the government-approved Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers.
This could result in the college being unable to offer apprenticeships from May 1 – when the Government’s new ruling comes into force.
But with many businesses already struggling to recruit adequate numbers of trained workers, the steady supply of properly qualified carpenters, electricians, plumbers and bricklayers is essential to keep Bristol building.
Gary Sheppard, Chief Executive at fast-growing Helm Construction, said the majority of the firm’s apprentices are sent to City of Bristol College.
He said: “The college has evidently gone through some issues and a number of the apprentices we have there are concerned as to the quality of training provided. We are also concerned as to the future provision of courses to support apprentices in the future.
“Helm insists that all apprentices attain NVQ Level III or equivalent and our apprentices have achieved consistently high results for the last for three years.
“It’s clear a city the size of Bristol should have one or more suitable colleges providing proper training for the next generation of construction workers.
“Construction activity both residential and commercial is up in Bristol and there are jobs available for skilled fully qualified individuals.”
Helm Construction is one of the fastest growing construction firms in the South West – employing more than 50 people on a dozen and more sites across the Greater Bristol area.
Gary Sheppard continues: “Employing apprentices is an integral part of Helm Construction’s business development plan. We see apprentices as a core element of the business providing a valuable skills resource now, but perhaps more importantly for our future.”
The firm has recruited a total of 24 apprentices, with six currently being trained and two having completed their training and moved on to senior managerial positions.