Willmott Dixon Partnerships managing director Mick Williamson gives his views on National Apprenticeship Week in Construction News. He says:

“Trade skills are the life blood of our industry. That’s why National Apprenticeship Week is a timely reminder that even in tough economic times, major contractors must show leadership and invest in skills.

Construction is one of the best industries to offer life-long careers to the many unemployed young people in this country who also feel disengaged from society.

We launched our Opening Doors programme to meet the huge interest for work experience placements from young people keen for a route into construction, and later this year will open a new national centre for skills in Birmingham to help thousands of people learn trades like plumbing, carpentry and joinery. There is an important business rationale for investing in apprenticeships; clients want their contractors and partners to leave a legacy and there is no better way than helping a local community gain new skills. Taking on 20 apprentices a year is not just good PR; it will help win new contracts.

Many companies have excellent apprenticeship records, we employ over 200 at Willmott Dixon or through our suppliers, but the recent recession has seen programmes cut. The biggest message is that we cannot treat training of trade skills as a light switch to turn on and off; it creates jobs, leaves a legacy and will help you win work.”

Willmott Dixon Partnerships is Willmott Dixon’s repairs and maintenance specialist and looks after 160,000 homes and buildings across the UK.