Construction industry urged to collaborate now to successfully integrate the Post 16 skills plan reforms

A year on from the publication of a review that warned of the construction industry’s dysfunctional training model, its author has joined other construction leaders to call for employers across the whole sector to come together to help shape the new technical qualifications due to be introduced in 2020.

Mark Farmer, whose Government-commissioned review of the UK Construction Labour Model was published on 17 October 2016, is one of eight sector experts urging the highly-fragmented industry to come together and establish a ‘collective voice’ to advise Government over the reforms of the new T-Levels.  Other signatories include Jenni Carrott of the Berkeley Group, Edward Shaw of City & Guilds, and Kate Healey of Seddon and Martyn Price, Chairman of the CCATF, who last week was appointed on to the Department for Education T-Level panel.

It was announced last week that construction will be one of the first three subjects for which a new technical qualification – a T-Level – will be developed. The timely report, ‘T-Levels - Shaping skills for the future of the construction industry,’ published by City & Guilds and the Cross-Industry Construction Apprenticeship Task Force (CCATF), summarises the recommendations that came out of a recent workshop convened to discuss the Farmer Review and the Government’s reforms to post-16 education.

Whilst the report noted that much progress had been made towards greater collaboration within the industry, it acknowledged that still more was needed from industry. It stated that the reforms will only be successful in meeting the skills demands of the industry if employers actively contribute to overcoming existing barriers in place.

The experts called for the Government to support the need for continued training during the transitional period until 2020 and continue to consult with industry as the new 16-19 offer is developed and rolled out. They also urged the sector to engage more seriously in FE, involve SMEs and present a united front to Government if it wishes to reap the benefits of these changes.

With increasing political and public pressure for new housing construction, high-profile infrastructure projects such as HS2, along with Britain’s imminent departure from the EU, there are growing concerns about current and future skills gaps being plugged in the sector. The Farmer Review warned of construction’s ‘dysfunctional training model’ and its lack of innovation and collaboration, and the experts are clear that the Government’s reforms represent a pivotal moment for one of Britain’s most important industries.

Other recommendations include:

  • Design and development of T-Level programmes in construction must be led by the sector

  • The construction sector deal should be incorporated into education reform

  • The full progression into the sector, from initial contact at school through to entry into work, should be considered in the context of T-Levels

  • The T-Levels must address the spectrum of skills and knowledge required

  • The delivery of construction training must be considered to ensure the reforms are sustainable

  • Work placements must be both structured and flexible to meet the demands of the sector

  • Better careers guidance directing young people into construction careers will be pivotal

Commenting on the launch of the campaign, Martyn Price, Chairman - CCATF, said “The Government’s proposed technical education reforms, including the development of T-Levels, represent a key moment for the construction sector in preparing for a sustainable future. The onus is now on the industry leaders to engage with one another to drive forward the reforms and ensure they suit our needs, whilst policymakers must recognise the need for a transitional period to manage the skills challenges facing construction in the immediate future.”

“Construction is a vital sector for the UK economy, with rewarding career opportunities for young people – so we must provide a modern, high-quality training route that offers real progression. With Brexit on the horizon and no slowdown in the need for construction expertise to support new housebuilding and major infrastructure projects, training the next generation has never been more important.”

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