Roads Losing out In Battle for Apprentices

Highways HTMA

Highways maintenance is at risk of losing out in the battle to attract young apprentices because other sectors offer dedicated education options for those aged between 16 and 18.
The National Rail Academy, High-Speed Rail Academies, NVQs in subjects like brick laying and plumbing all give young people, who are required to stay in education until they are 18, training for future careers.  So far, the highways maintenance sector has nothing similar.

“We are losing people from the pool of those most naturally inclined to our sector because we have nothing to offer them,” said Highways Term Maintenance Association chair of the people and working group Jonathan Cheeseman, who is also resource and development manager for contractor Colas.

HTMA is now carrying out research to assess how much of an issue this is, and what to do about it.  Cheeseman’s instinct is that the highways maintenance sector needs a Forces-style promotion campaign to outline all the different career options on offer in the sector and to underline its critical role in keeping the country and economy moving.

He is part of a panel discussing “Improving the image” of highways maintenance at the HTMA’s ‘Road to Tomorrow’ conference in London on 25 October and is hoping to hear the views of others in the industry.

“We also put up internal barriers for the under 18s by being reluctant to offer work experience because they need extra supervision,” Cheeseman said.  “That is counter productive for the future of our industry.”

Peter McDermott, conference panel chair and HTMA vice chair said, “Demonstrating that the sector is as much about science, environment, legal work and customer relations, as the manual labour is critical.  The sector also needs to plan for an era when evolving technology will mean that there will be no need to put people out doing repairs on live carriageways.

“We have an opportunity to excite a different group of people with different skills to want to join us,” he said.

Get involved with the panel debate at the HTMA conference and find out more about the event at

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