School is firmly back in session, with children now well into the new school year, and courses in full swing at colleges and universities across the country.

In the weeks leading up to the beginning of September, newspapers are full of GCSE and A-Level results, scrutinising how the year’s exam results compare to the year before.

But what of those students who don’t attain the results they expected – or needed? Or those who simply don’t want to continue to university?

The last few years has seen a renewed focus on vocational qualifications, with the government pledging to introduce T-Levels to revolutionise technical education and put courses in construction skills on a level par with academic A-levels. It’s a move that is long overdue, with severe skills shortages in construction skills such as bricklayers, joiners, carpenters and many other areas already having a serious impact on the industry.

Some 22% of the construction industry is over 50 years of age, with 15% in their 60s and heading for retirement. With fewer people available to complete key construction projects, there’s never been a greater need to encourage more people to enter the construction industry.

But CITB data shows that the overall appeal of the construction industry as a career option is low, scoring just 4.2 out of 10 among 14 to 19 year-olds. When those of us who work in the industry know just how enjoyable and lucrative a career in the industry can be, how do we change the minds of young people – and their parents?

Arguably the biggest problem is that people think a career in construction means being a builder or working on a building site when in fact, if they give the industry a try, there are many different opportunities both on – and off – the tools.

Apprenticeships are open to all ages, and are a key channel in which students can experience the opportunities available in the construction industry, gaining practical work skills while earning a wage.

At W.Howard Group we have a long history of taking on apprentices, with many students having the chance to work with us and spend time in each department, learning valuable life skills that set them in good stead for their entire careers. Over the years our apprentices have embraced roles in mechanics, engineering, management, logistics, estimating, and health and safety, and now the latest apprentices to join the company are working in business support and business administration.

Jamie McDonnell and Matthew Bellin have joined the group within its Logistics and Business Support teams, respectively, and will have the chance to experience the world of work and to learn all about W.Howard Group and its products.