The past few years may have been difficult for the construction industry, but figures released recently suggest things are back on track – and getting better.


The Construction Industry Training Board suggests more than 4,100 construction apprenticeship will be available in the East of England alone every year for the next four years, as building projects take off once more.


Tiptree firm Punch Construction took on two apprentices last year, three this year, with hopes to take on more in the years to come.


Nicola Arnull, whose husband Darren launched the business 14 years ago, says: “We use apprentices to build our business because we found we could train them in the skills we specifically need.”


Punch Construction specialises in traditional restoration work, requiring its staff to be trained in skills such as carpentry. It has completed works at landmarks such as Layer Marney Tower, churches and also private houses.


Nicola says: “Luckily we continued to be busy throughout the recession, but in the past year work has really picked up to the point something needed to happen. We needed more carpenters, but we couldn’t find anyone with the skills we wanted so offering apprenticeships was the only way to go.”


Nicola says not everyone wants to study at university, some people just prefer to learn and earn.


The CITB says the cost of university would leave students in debt to an average £25, 941.


In comparison, students get paid while they learn on apprenticeships, with employers often supported financially by the Government and in industry-specific apprenticeships, by the CITB too.


A separate survey, by Bibby Financial Services, found small construction companies have been confident about growth, with sales expected to increase, and work flooding in from large housing developers.


Nicola says: “Apprentices in the constructing industry have to want to do this.


“It’s not a job you want to do just to fill time.


“They have to be hard working, good timekeepers and understand how their behaviour impacts on the owners of the property they are working on as we also work on private homes.


“Working on restoring old buildings means you need to use your brain, you need an interest in that sort of thing.


“With the way things are going we hope to continue taking on new apprentices.”