Achieving a vocational qualification (VQ) can add up to 25% to a construction worker’s salary, according to new research from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). 

The Achievers and Leavers report shows that each VQ level achieved really does result in higher pay. The report looks at three related issues – the value of vocational qualifications, the destinations of learners that have gone through Further Education and the reasons for workers leaving the construction sector early.

It reveals that too few FE learners progress into careers in construction. It also highlights lessons to learn from workers leaving construction earlier than expected, and without realising the full potential of a career in the sector.

The report shows that a Level 2 VQ is worth more than £2,200 across 5 years in increased wages, moving up to Level 3 is worth a further £3,500, and gaining a Level 4 £12,600.    

When compared with those without formal qualifications, someone with a Level 2 VQ earns 13% more, Level 3 16% more and those with a Level 4 see a 25% boost in earnings on average.

However, the report also shows 1 out of 3 learners left the industry after completing an FE course, despite 9 out of 10 expecting to remain in the industry when asked 6 months earlier.

Some 3 out of 5 learners cited a lack of work experience as the main reason for not securing work in construction. On the employer side, 1 in 3 felt new entrants were poorly prepared for working in the sector.

Furthermore, although 88% of those who began work in the industry and then left stated they received careers advice before entering construction, a similar proportion (86%) said they would have benefited from more talks from construction employers at school or college.    

For those that stayed in the industry, three quarters said qualifications helped with their career progression. Of those who had been promoted, 73% believed they wouldn’t have been promoted without their qualification.

As well as the increase in employees’ wages, the research showed that 9 out of 10 employers had supported their staff in attaining qualifications in the last 3 years. On top of this, 62% of employers said that investing in training had a significant impact on improving productivity.

Steve Radley, CITB Director of Policy, said: “It is particularly pleasing to see the clear benefits of VQs to construction employees. Training shouldn’t stop at entry level, and it is fundamentally true that the more you learn the more you can earn.

“However, the research also reveals that as an industry we are struggling to keep a significant proportion of learners in the sector and that they need to receive better careers advice and work experience.

“Industry has already made a start through Go Construct, but we need to build on this and work together to help more potential entrants get a taste of what construction is really like.“ 

About CITB: CITB is the Industrial Training Board (ITB) for the construction industry in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales). CITB ensures employers can access the high quality training their workforce needs and supports industry to attract new recruits into successful careers in construction.

Using its evidence base on skills requirements, CITB works with employers to develop standards and qualifications for the skills industry needs now, and in the future. CITB is improving its employer funding to invest in the most needed skills and by making it easier for companies of all sizes to claim grants and support. 

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