There was no systematic, regulated training system for the construction industry until the formation of the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) in 1964. This was set up as a statutory, tri-partite organisation with representation split equally between the trade unions, employers and government.

Throughout the 1940s and 1950s apprenticeships were organised through the voluntary National Joint Apprenticeship Scheme and the exemplary wartime Apprentice Master Scheme which wound up in 1952. In the private sector of the construction industry, small and medium-sized building firms undertook the majority of apprenticeship training in the seven traditional trades. In 1957, 75% of all trainees were with smaller firms and this proportion was still high, at 70%, in 1965 (BRS 1971). In some cases the training received was excellent and young men gained experience in a wide range of tasks. In others it meant simply picking up skills in a haphazard fashion. Whatever the training, however, apprenticeship remained largely confined to the traditional trades of carpentry and joinery, bricklaying, painting and decorating, plumbing and electrical work, with little or no provision for newer processes.

In this clip, Dave Ansell describes what he learnt as an apprentice bricklayer with a general building firm



During this period of post-war construction industrialised techniques became more prevalent on large schemes. These ‘non-traditional’ techniques of building were designed to be executed with fewer numbers of skilled workers, along with more sophisticated and better machinery and technology. Mechanical excavators and diggers became increasingly large and more powerful, while concrete specialisms, such as steelfixing and concrete-finishing also became more evident. The new occupations associated with this type of building remained outside the main training framework and classed as ‘semi-skilled’.

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Boys learn to become bricklayers