BARRATT Developments has declared its intention to boost its workforce in Scotland by hiring a combination of 125 apprentices, graduates and trainees over the next three years.

The commitment comes as the house builder looks to capitalise on the upturn in the housing market, with plans to construct 2000 new homes in 21 sites across Scotland this year.

Regional director for Scotland, Douglas Mcleod, signalled it will look to hire staff to work on its sites as it aims to meet the demand for new homes around the UK.

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The company said it has increased the rate of sales at it sites by 40% in the last year, and is committed to building 45,000 new homes over the next three years.

Mr Mcleod said some of the new recruits will join the Barratt Apprenticeship programme, which the firm said has a strong track record in helping people build long-term careers with the company.

The four-year programme, set out by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), involves participants attending college as well as gaining skills through the internal Barratt Academy.

He noted: "We have had a long-standing history of employing apprentices, usually through the CITB and taking them through the local colleges.

"However we have recently pushed into our own internal apprentice trainee programme, as well as attending college.

"It's a long-standing course, but it has been further strengthened by what we proposed to do in training more apprentices to become tradesmen."

A report by the CITB last year found that 350,000 staff have left the construction industry since 2008, and predicts it will need to hire 182,000 between now and 2018 as output picks up.

Barratt took on 58 staff in Scotland last year, including 19 apprentices, graduates and trainees, which helped take the number of workers on its books to 1200 by December, including sub-contractors.

Mr Mcleod said Barratt's latest hires will bring its staffing closer to its pre-recession levels.

And he expects the gap to narrow even further as a result of the busy house building programme has on the slates over the next three years, which will necessitate the recruitment of further trades people.

Mr Mcleod added: "We need to increase the number of people we employ. It is still slightly below pre-recession. We are looking to recruit and I think once we have completed our recruitment and all our sites are up and running, we will have more people than what we did seven years ago."

Noting that the construction sector offers greater prospects for career progression than it used to, Mr Mcleod said schools and colleges should do more to highlight the apprenticeship option.Among its apprentices in Scotland is Stephanie Hay, who works on Barratt's City Haven development in Newhaven, Edinburgh.

A carpentry and joinery apprentice, Ms Hay splits her time between college and work experience, having already completed course in her specialist areas at Telford College.

Mr Mcleod stated: "I think it's a great career.

"There are lots of opportunities for progression and it is also a career that now pays substantially better than it did historically.

"It's a well-paid career and there are good opportunities for young people to progress into roles in management."

Barratt's plans highlight the extent of the housing market's recovery following the recession, during which it was only hiring a "handful" of apprentices due to the drop off in building rate.

Mr Mcleod said the launch of the Help to Buy scheme last year had provided a "big stimulus" to the market.