The UK housing market is once again booming, with house prices recently reaching the highest post-recession increase yet, rising 8% in the year to the end of March. This is undoubtedly good news for homeowners, and for the construction industry with demand for building work increasing as people look to upgrade or refurbish properties, and developers face a growing demand both for new housing stock and the refurbishment of old.

However, to fulfil these demands, 182,000 new jobs will need to be filled between 2014-2018, according to estimates from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), and yet government figures show that just 14,000 apprenticeships were created in the construction, housing and environmental build sector in 2012-2013 – 8,000 fewer than in 2010-2011. Clearly the industry is facing an escalating skills shortage that urgently needs addressing if it is to meet this demand.

This skills shortage also comes at a time of high unemployment amongst the young: recently released government figures show that 868,000 young people aged 16-24 were unemployed in December 2013 to February 2014, equating to 19% of this age group. The answer to solving both issues could lie in creating more apprenticeships, an idea that, according to recent research from the Travis Perkins Group, has the support of homeowners already feeling the effects of the skills shortage and seeking a solution.

In fact, the research reveals that 70% of UK homeowners believe that all building firms with a turnover of more than £500,000 should be required to take on an apprentice each year. The majority of homeowners also think that the government should be involved, with 55% believing that the government should pay for a year’s apprenticeship for new entrants into the building trade aged 19-24.

Apprenticeships do not need to stop at helping just young people either; 48% also said there should be a special government scheme to help people retrain later in life, with 64% thinking there should be a special government programme targeted at the long-term unemployed to train them in building skills and to find them apprenticeships.

More apprenticeships could certainly help to meet the demand for jobs amongst all age groups, as well as that for building work. Boosting apprentice numbers could also go some way in helping the government to meet its new housing targets, but there are also other reasons why we as an industry should be creating more positions. While the housing market is performing well, the value in creating apprenticeships exists regardless of how the market performs. Apprenticeships are essential for the industry as a whole, as well as for individual businesses, as a way of passing on skills and boosting the long-term prospects of both by ensuring a constant supply of skilled workers.

At the Travis Perkins Group, apprenticeships play a key role in providing us with a reliable stream of talented staff. Our own apprentice scheme has provided us with generations of managers, including our chief executive John Carter who rose up the ladder through our management apprenticeship scheme. This year, we plan to take on 138 new apprentices – more than ever before – with the General Merchanting Division planning to recruit 105 of these for its two-year programme, up from 40 in 2013 and 30 in 2012.

In fact, with a new housing boom under way, demand for building services increasing as a result, and a very real need for more jobs, taking on more apprentices, and creating new apprentice schemes, makes perfect sense for both the industry as a whole, and those in it. The creation of more apprentice positions provides a very viable solution to meeting this increased demand for building services both now and longer term.