CONSTRUCTION apprentices aren't being equipped with sufficient skills according to a York builder who is calling for apprenticeships to be extended to five years.

John Butler, 75, has spoken out following political pressure on apprenticeship creation, with the Government celebrating getting 2 million people signed up to apprenticeships, and Labour promising 80,000 extra places a year.

Mr Butler, who for the past 34 years has run his own construction business J.M Butler Builders, in Nether Poppleton, believes statistics and targets are taking precedence over the how effective an apprenticeship is.

He says the current three year, block release system does not give youngsters the necessary skills to secure employment once qualified.

Mr Butler said: "Three years is not enough to learn a trade properly. I've taken on six apprentices in recent years, and I haven't been able to keep any of the on.

"They don't have the skills yet they expect a full man's wage. It just isn't economical to keep them on.

"It's easier for bigger housebuilding companies, as housebuilding is very specific, with very routine tasks. For smaller businesses like myself we need our workers to turn their hand to a variety of skills on a variety of jobs, and they just don't have anywhere near that experience after three years."

Mr Butler, who's business turns over around £1.5 million a year is calling for the apprenticeship system to return to a five year programme, taking on people younger and training them for longer.

He said: "When I started out I did a five year apprenticeship as a joiner, working on the job.

"People need to be in a work situation to learn. I agree the colleges are trying to do a good job, but youngsters need to be on site to learn about work ethic.

"We should have more pride in our industry. Quality work deserves skills."

Mr Butler is also calling on politicians to take advice from broader industry representation in relation to skills training, fearing they only consult with larger construction companies.

Mr Butler has been speaking to local apprentice training provider York College about his views on apprenticeships.

Kerry Jephson, Employer Engagement manager at York College said: "The apprenticeship standards have been developed and set by employers and the sector representatives.

"Currently, there is a major change being driven by the government to put employers and industry in the driving seat of apprenticeship standards moving forwards."