A rise in Scottish building apprentice numbers has prompted the industry training body to call on more people to consider a career in construction.
The number of building apprentices registered in Scotland in 2014 had increased by 20% to 1,553 from 2012, when numbers were at a 15-year low.
Numbers remain 42% below their historic peak of more than 2,700 apprentices registered in 2007, immediately before the recession.
The latest apprentice registration figures were released as official statistics showed that the Scottish construction industry employed 6,000 fewer workers at the end of last year than at the end of 2013, taking direct employment in the sector to 177,000.
The fall was recorded during a year when overall output from the industry increased 16%, taking its overall value to the Scottish economy to more than £12 billion.
Despite the collapse this month of Dundee construction company Muirfield Contracts with the loss of 258 jobs, Paul Mitchell, registrar at the Scottish Building Apprenticeship and Training Council, hoped the rise in apprenticeships will continue as the industry’s recovery is maintained.
“Levels of apprenticeship recruitment have remained relatively low in recent years, with industry employment and apprentice numbers still well below pre-recession levels,” he continued.
“It’s very important that we ensure that there is balanced growth across all sectors of the industry.
“There is currently a spike in infrastructure investment as the Queensferry Crossing approaches completion in 2016, but growth in the private commercial and repair and maintenance sectors is much more modest.
“It is these sectors, together with house-building, that will drive future growth in apprentice numbers. We also have to ensure that the construction apprenticeships offered are fit for purpose and reflect the needs of employers.”
He added: “We need to continue to get the message across that the construction industry can offer a wide variety of high quality, long-term career opportunities across a broad range of trades, as well as in professional and managerial roles.
“With the industry in recovery mode and apprentice numbers on the rise, there has never been a better time to consider a career in construction.”
Recently, leading Scottish housebuilder Stewart Milne, founder and executive chairman of the Stewart Milne Group, called for construction trades to become more valued.
He was concerned that a shortage of qualified tradesmen and women was threatening the predicted upturn in housebuilding and construction.
He launched a campaign to highlight the vital role of trades in construction growth to counter a skills shortage.