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Shared apprenticeships scheme announced

11th March 2021

Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Programme to loan apprentices to businesses across the country as part of pledge to create thousands of jobs

  • Apprentice loan scheme will support small and medium businesses across UK

  • Professions to include high-tech engineering and design, stonemasonry and more

  • Dozens of paid internships and placements offered to young people through partnership with the Social Mobility Foundation

  • Survey of 6500 employers, universities and colleges to map out potential skills shortages

A major apprentice loan scheme for small and medium construction and heritage businesses across the UK will be created as part of plans to support thousands of jobs and training opportunities, the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Programme announced today.

Around 160 apprentices, including engineers, designers, stonemasons, and carpenters, will be employed by the organisations overseeing and delivering the restoration of the Palace of Westminster and loaned to UK businesses working on the complex refurbishment.

Dozens of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in social mobility ‘cold spots’ will also be offered paid internships and placements as part of a partnership with the Social Mobility Foundation charity.

The restoration programme is committed to paying at least the voluntary Living Wage - higher than the National Living Wage - to all employees and those employed throughout its supply chain.

Plans for the partnership and the industry-leading apprentice loan scheme were unveiled today ahead of the publication this afternoon of a review into the strategy for carrying out the much-needed restoration of the Palace of Westminster.

Mike Brown CBE MVO, Chair of the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Delivery Authority, said:

“At the heart of our unique programme to restore the iconic Palace of Westminster is a commitment to creating thousands jobs and apprentices right across the UK.

“We’re offering a fantastic opportunity for hundreds of young people to work on one of the most important and exciting construction projects in the world.”

In future, there will be a requirement for larger contractors working on the restoration programme to recruit a minimum number of apprentices, creating thousands of training opportunities.

160 apprentices will be employed directly by the restoration programme through a Shared Apprenticeship Scheme, one of the most ambitious of its kind in the construction and heritage sector. They will be “loaned out” on rotating placements to around 300 small and medium-sized companies working on Parliament’s refurbishment.

These “loan” arrangements would help smaller contractors working on Parliament’s restoration who want to support on-the-job learning, but face challenges in employing apprentices themselves.

Apprentices will be able to rotate through different placements as they learn, with the Restoration and Renewal Programme directly employing the apprentices for the duration. All apprentices will be paid at least the voluntary Living Wage, which is set at £10.85 for those based in London and £9.50 across the rest of the UK.

The scheme is expected to start employing apprentices from 2022 and is expected to cost £6m over the lifetime of the restoration programme.

The Restoration and Renewal Programme’s partnership with the Social Mobility Foundation will see at least 10 interns spend at least a year on the project, starting in May, and at least 20 young people will undertake work experience placements.

In another major commitment to improve skills and training opportunities, the restoration programme is also surveying 6000 employers and 500 training providers including universities and colleges to map out any relevant skills shortages and work with them to train people to plug these gaps.

The review will provide clarity on the way forward, so the programme can continue developing a detailed and costed restoration plan that will for the first time give Parliamentarians a true and accurate sense of the costs, timescales and full detail of the work needed. The review itself will not include estimated costs and timescales for the restoration work. As previously planned, work is expected to begin on the Palace of Westminster in the mid-2020s.

James Ritchie, a building services engineering apprentice working on the Restoration and Renewal programme said:

“Working on such an amazing and well-known building as the Houses of Parliament is really exciting, and I feel extremely privileged to be involved. I really enjoy being an apprentice on this project because I get to learn new things all the time.”

Sarah Atkinson, Chief Executive of the Social Mobility Foundation, said:

“To increase social mobility, especially in the aftermath of Covid-19, we need to see innovative initiatives targeted at the young people, and communities, who have often been left behind. The commitment of the Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Programme to create inspiring opportunities for disadvantaged young people to gain skills and experience does exactly that. We are so excited to be working on this programme and help connect young people from across the UK with this unique opportunity.”

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England said:

“Apprenticeships at key heritage projects are a very important way to foster the skills needed to sustain the heritage sector and protect our magnificent historic buildings, such as the Palace of Westminster. The Palace has a long history of nurturing craft skills, having raised a whole new school of carvers when it was rebuilt after the 1834 fire. Alongside archaeologists, conservators and others, specialist craft workers are an essential part of the heritage ecosystem. These apprenticeships are an important element of the national picture, and will become a key training ground for the whole sector.”

Steve Radley, the Construction Industry Training Board’s Director of Strategy and Policy, said:

“Construction companies need as much support as possible to aid the country’s recovery from the pandemic, and this is a really imaginative project that will help SMEs in particular. Apprenticeships provide the best route into construction, and the renovation of the Houses of Parliament shows that traditional trades remain an integral part of the industry.”


Background Information

Parliament set up the Restoration and Renewal Programme in law to oversee and deliver the work needed to protect the Palace of Westminster.

The review, published later today, will provide the direction needed to deliver the restoration programme in accordance with this legislation.

As previously planned, work is expected to begin on the Palace of Westminster in the mid-2020s.

The Palace of Westminster is falling apart faster than it can be fixed and urgently needs extensive work to protect it for future generations. The building is at high risk of a catastrophic fire, flood or falling masonry which could injure someone, or worse.

Restoring the building will be an enormous and complex project, creating thousands of jobs and apprenticeships in a range of construction, traditional building and conservation professions.

The Palace is an enormous building with a floorplate the size of 16 football pitches with 1,100 rooms, 100 staircases, three miles of passageways, four floors and 65 different levels.

Governance

The organisation which will lead the UK’s biggest heritage renovation project, the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster, was launched in April 2020 as an independent body, separate from, but accountable to, Parliament. The Houses of Parliament Restoration and Renewal Sponsor Body has been set up to tackle the work needed to protect the Palace, ensuring it can continue to serve as the home of the UK Parliament in the 21st century and beyond.

The Sponsor Body will set the scope, budget and timescale for the project in response to the requirements of Parliament. It will oversee a Delivery Authority, which will be responsible for developing and delivering the work to the Sponsor Body’s specifications.

About the Social Mobility Foundation

The Social Mobility Foundation (SMF) is a charity that makes practical improvements in social mobility for young people from low-income backgrounds, both through programme work and its advocacy and campaigning arm the Department for Opportunities (DO).

The SMF programmes are free of charge and incorporate mentoring, internships, university application support (including trips to open days and assistance with personal statements, aptitude tests and interviews), and career and skills workshops to support young people through their sixth-form and university years.

Currently taking on a new cohort of over 2,000 young people every year, the SMF has offices in Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Newcastle. Its programmes are offered to young people nationwide across 11 career sectors (Accountancy, Architecture, Banking & Finance, Biology & Chemistry, Business, Engineering & Physics, Law, Media & Communications, Medicine, Politics, and Digital).

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