Aggregate Industries has pledged its full support to the imminent arrival of the government’s Apprenticeship Levy – stating it is crucial in attracting new talent into the construction industry and helping to bridge the current skills gap.

Starting in April 2017, the Apprenticeship Levy means that employers with a wage bill of more than £3m will have to pay a 0.5% levy to fund apprenticeships. The broad purpose is to raise £3bn a year to meet a target of three million new ‘high quality’ apprenticeships by 2020.

This latest move comes amid a crippling skills deficit within the construction industry. According to recent reports, the construction sector currently employs 324,000 fewer workers than it did in 2008 and needs to fill 182,000 jobs by 2018. Worse still, with a significant proportion of the UK’s construction workforce made up of EU workers, the consensus is that the nation’s skills gulf is likely to deepen further.

David Butterfield, head of learning and development at Aggregate Industries, said: “While it is understandable that the Apprenticeship Levy may appear as yet another tax burden for larger construction businesses to adhere, the reality is that it has a vital role to play in helping to close the escalating skills deficit.

“As a sector, we must work harder to attract and retain new talent, and actively promote our sector as an attractive employment option. Apprenticeships are key to this; yes it may mean extra cost and resource in the short-term but it will pay dividends in the long-run, enabling businesses to develop specialist expertise and safeguard their ongoing development.”

Aggregate Industries operates an extensive apprenticeship programme designed to give young people an opportunity to learn new skills and practice them in a live environment, as a solid basis for career development.