Balfour Beatty stands firm as it increases commitment to young people

Balfour Beatty has today made a public declaration to increase the Group’s ongoing commitment to its Apprentice, Graduate and Trainee recruitment programmes. Today’s pledge sees Balfour Beatty commit to a c.30% increase in its 2020 Apprentice, Graduate and Trainee recruitment levels in comparison to the company’s 2019 intake levels.

As a member of The 5% Club, a dynamic movement of employers committed to ‘earn & learn’ roles as part of ensuring Britain’s social mobility and shared prosperity, Balfour Beatty already exceeds its charter promise to dedicate 5% of its employees numbers to earn and learn positions. In 2019 it totaled 5.4% of its workforce in these roles, with an intake of 86 Graduates, 119 Apprentices and 26 Trainees.

Today’s increased commitment sees these figures rise to 108 graduate placements, 160 Apprenticeships and 29 Trainee positions, bringing the total percentage of the company’s workforce in ‘earn & learn’ positions to 5.7%.

This important step comes amidst growing national uncertainty around continued business support of youth employment, as a result of the financial fallout from COVID-19.

Balfour Beatty’s action follows on from a letter sent earlier this year by Group Chief Executive, Leo Quinn, to the CEOs of over eight hundred UK companies – including the country’s FTSE250 companies and all members of The 5% Club.

The letter, available to read here, sought to galvanise support amongst employers and policymakers to shore up opportunities for the next generation of Apprentices, Graduates and Trainees, with the “plan for jobs” speech from the Chancellor, the Rt Hon. Rishi Sunak in July, a welcome step in the right direction.

Leo Quinn, Balfour Beatty Group Chief Executive and Founder of The 5% Club said, “The economic fallout from COVID-19 will cast a long and damaging shadow over today’s young if we do not act. Swathes of young people face an uncertain future as businesses define their future.

“Yet amongst this turmoil, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that those most at risk of losing their chance to build skilled careers are critical to helping us rebuild the economy – and our society – as we emerge from the crisis.

“For the construction and infrastructure industry, we must make sure we continue to bring in and develop new talent to secure the skills and capability essential to the successful delivery of Government’s ambitious plans for infrastructure investment.

“The country’s future will be decided by the choices we make today: I urge all employers to hold to their original training plans. We must not let down an entire generation.”

Gillian Keegan, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister said, “There has never been a more critical time to invest in new talent and help create more job opportunities. Apprenticeships are a brilliant way to get ahead in a wide range of exciting industries and will also play a vital role in delivering the skills our economy needs to grow after coronavirus.

“I very much welcome this fantastic pledge from Balfour Beatty. I really hope it encourages more businesses to consider offering more young people the opportunity to gain the skills, experience and confidence they need to get on the path to a great career.

“To support this, we are offering all employers £2,000 for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25 and £1,500 for new apprentices aged 25 and over.”