July 20, 2024

Construction pioneer Merit expands apprenticeship programme to support demand for 7,900 additional workers in the Northeast by 2027

Northumberland-headquartered Merit, the UK’s leading offsite engineering and construction specialist for technically complex, zero-carbon emission buildings, has today announced its plans to double its apprenticeship targets in 2023, as part of its ongoing efforts to address future skills needs.

This follows the latest report from the Construction Skills Network (CSN) which predicts that an extra 7,900 workers will be needed in the North East from 2023 to 2027 to meet construction demand. If projected growth is met, the construction workforce in the UK will remain around 2.67 million.

Merit has been committed to investing in home grown talent for many years, starting its apprenticeship programme back in 2013. It has so far worked with nearly 60 local apprentices, in which all have received a full time employment offer once completing the programme. Now in its tenth year, Merit plans to create a further 20 opportunities this year to help meet the business’ need for more skilled workers following a string of successful project wins, including the UK’s first CAR-T cell manufacturing facility for Autolus Therapeutics and Piramal’s ACD manufacturing facility expansion. The Northeast business has already doubled its workforce in the last two years and recently announced a 4000m2 factory expansion at its Cramlington site, which is expected to add over 50 new jobs.

Ashley Cassap, People Advisor at Merit, commented: “Merit’s apprenticeship programme plays an important role in the business’s continued growth and provides long-term career opportunities for young people in the Northeast across a variety of business areas including Pipefitting and Welding, Metal Fabrication, Electrical and Document Control. We are proud to support our community and it’s important that businesses like us create opportunities for young people, to nurture talent right from the very start.”

She continues: “Our apprenticeship programme is aimed at helping young people achieve their full potential through continuous training and exposure to specialist skills. Merit provides apprentices with first-hand experience of working on a construction site – depending on their trade, they will typically carry out their first six months at college and then attend Merit’s factory with one day spent at college going forwards for the next four years.”

To help tackle the barriers to entry-level recruitment in the construction sector and close the large skills gap, Merit works closely with local schools including Ashington Academy, Bedlington Academy, Tyne North Training College and JTL Training College, raising the visibility of apprenticeships as a career pathway and promoting their wide-ranging benefits.

Tony Wells, CEO of Merit, commented: “As a pioneer in the construction industry, Merit recognises the importance of providing training routes into the industry, to ultimately drive wider UK productivity growth and bolster the industry’s resilience as it faces both a challenging economic climate alongside ambitious UK net-zero targets.”