BUILDING bosses have warned the Government must do more to address a skills shortage and get more apprentices into the trade.

A survey from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) says Government funding reforms could stop companies taking on younger workers.

Brian Berry, FMB chief executive, said: “More than a third of construction small and medium-sized businesses tell us that they are struggling to recruit the bricklayers they need to stay on top of their workloads.

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“Plasterers are almost as difficult to come by with 27 per cent of firms saying they are having difficulty finding these skilled tradesmen.

“The results act as a stark warning that the Government must not take the recovery in the construction sector for granted.

“Firms are still hugely concerned about the impact of the Government’s apprenticeship funding reforms.

“If they are implemented as proposed, most micro-businesses, which currently train two-thirds of all construction apprentices, are likely to stop hiring apprentices altogether.

“The Construction Training Industry Board has forecast 182,000 new UK jobs are expected to be created in the construction industry by 2018, so this is not the time to jeopardise the ability of small firms to continue their proud history of training apprentices.

“Not only would this be disastrous for the construction, it would be disastrous for the wider economy which is largely relying on construction and housing to drive the recovery.”