Flexi-job construction apprenticeships launched
Construction apprenticeships are set for a shakeup. From January 2022, the first flexi-job apprenticeships are due to be introduced in the industry. The new flexi-job apprenticeships enable apprentices to work across a range of work projects with multiple employers to gain a wider variety of skills and experience.
But how will they work and how could flexi-job apprenticeships benefit you? Keep reading to find out.
How do apprenticeships work?
Before we talk about flexi-job apprenticeships, lets take a look at how standard apprenticeships work.
An apprenticeship is a highly valued route into the construction industry. An apprenticeship is a job with training for anyone aged 16 and over. During an apprenticeship, you’ll work with experienced staff and gain qualifications by doing practical and academic learning. Your employer will give you tasks to perform, and a training provider will equip you with the theoretical skills to perform those tasks.
Apprentices earn as they learn, so you’ll earn a wage and have no tuition fees – and you’re entitled to some additional benefits too. Apprentices are employed full-time (usually between 30-40 hours per week), which includes time spent with a training provider. Apprenticeships must last for at least 12 months, and most take around two years to complete.
How are flexi-job apprenticeships different?
All of the benefits and qualifications remain the same – but instead of completing your apprenticeship with just one employer, flexi-job apprenticeships give you the opportunity to work with multiple construction firms.
Flexi-job – or ‘portable’ – apprenticeships will create more opportunities for you. Flexible or project-based work in construction is common – companies often have spouts of busy periods and even specialised firms can work on a variety of different projects. In a flexi-job apprenticeship, you can flit between different companies, working on projects which are most interesting and relevant to you. For example, if you’re a civil engineering apprentice with a particular interest in roadworks, you can move between companies which are completing roadworks projects, rather than working for just one firm where you have less choice in the projects you’re working on.
Or, for example, if you’re working for a contacting firm as a bricklaying apprentice on a project to erect a new building - this may include a package of brickwork lasting 4 months. After that, the trades move on and the next phase of the build begins. This isn’t a sufficient length of time for a bricklaying apprentice to get the experience you need. The next project the same employer works on may include no brickwork at all and the apprenticeship then becomes unsustainable.
Think of flexi-job apprenticeships as a bit like a jigsaw puzzle – rather than one long apprenticeship, they piece together a series of placements that enable you to get the experience needed for a particular apprenticeship and to complete and comply with the minimum duration requirements.
How do flexi-job apprenticeships work?
Rather than signing on to work with a single employer, you will register with a flexi-job apprenticeship agency. These can be made up of sector bodies, recruitment agencies or groups of employers – and will have strong links to your profession and the area you’re completing the apprenticeship in.
The agency will assign you to work on different projects or with multiple employers throughout your apprenticeship. At the end of your apprenticeship you will gain your qualification having worked on a wider variety of projects than typical apprenticeships – and this will be highly valued by any future employer.
The government has provided £7m of funding for the new agencies, which are expected to be fully up and running in January 2022. You can find out more here.
What are the benefits of a flexi-job apprenticeship?
So, we know how they work and how they’re different from other types of apprenticeship – let’s review some of the benefits of flexi-job apprenticeships.
The new scheme is similar to the shared apprenticeships scheme – which achieved fantastic results in construction, resulting in an 85% apprenticeship completion rate. Many of the benefits and good results from that scheme have been implemented here.
Some more benefits at a glance include:
- Working on different projects with multiple employers give you a wider range of skills and experiences which will help you throughout your career
- Flexibility offered is better suited to a construction work environment
- You can work on project areas which you’re most interested in, giving you greater control over your apprenticeship
- Moving the management of apprenticeships away from employers and towards specialist agencies allows firms to spend more time on training.