ConstructionSkills homepage
About us | Sector Skills Agreement | Strategic Initiatives | Research | News | Have your say
News > Skills Update > 
Skills Update

Skills issues hit the headlines for Ministers

Photograph of Peter Lobban, Chief Executive of ConstructionSkills

Skills and training have been at the top of the agenda for several Government Ministers over the past few weeks, with the importance of improving skills across the board in order for the UK to compete in a global economy being clearly recognised. The importance of the role of Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) in achieving this has also been widely accepted by Government and opposition alike.

ConstructionSkills has been active in ensuring that Ministers are aware of the particular skills challenges within construction and the steps that are being taken to address them. As a result, we have been given a number of opportunities to ensure the construction industry has a place at the table with the policy and decision makers.

So, what are some of the key government issues currently affecting skills in the industry and how can employers, through ConstructionSkills, influence them?

White paper

On Monday 27 March, the DfES published its further education (FE) White Paper which set out the priorities for the role of FE in the future. The paper contained a clear focus on the needs of employers when setting the agenda and funding for the FE sector. This concept is central to ConstructionSkills’ Sector Skills Agreement, which engages employers, training providers and government in partnerships designed to deliver the very best training, tailored to meet employer need.

ConstructionSkills welcomed the publication of the report, which clearly states “We will need to ensure that employers can get what they want and need” and “We will listen to employers and respond to their requirements as set out in Sector Skills Agreements”. As a pathfinder SSC in a successful and mature industry, ConstructionSkills is ahead of the game in terms of developing workstreams which deliver effective training to employers and much of the best practice highlighted in the report is already carried out in construction training.

As with all government policy, however, the devil will be in the detail of delivery and funding. ConstructionSkills will be lobbying Ministers and civil servants over the coming weeks in order to meet and understand exactly how information on employer’s needs will be fed in to funding policies.

Our Minister

CITB-ConstructionSkills Chief Executive, Peter Lobban, has met again with Phil Hope, Minister for Skills. This high profile meeting was also attended by chief executives and representatives from the other Pathfinder SSCs and the second tranche SSCs. The successful meeting reviewed progress of the SSAs and provided ConstructionSkills with the opportunity to highlight some of its most successful initiatives to date, including the Positive Image campaign, the first year of the Inspire Scholarships programme and the industry’s greatly improved apprenticeship framework completions.

Phil Hope also gave his message of support in an extremely positive pre-recorded video, broadcast at the CITB-ConstructionSkills management conference. His message was very clear: that we are doing excellent work in addressing the key skills challenges faced by the industry and he is very much in support of our initiatives.

All Party Group

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Construction Skills and Training was set up in March 2004 as a discussion forum for Parliamentarians, the construction SSCs and the construction industry. Chaired by Clare Curtis-Thomas MP, the group is an active and enthusiastic supporter of skills training in the construction industry and is eager to generate debate and discussion in the Houses of Parliament over some of the key issues affecting the industry.

The Group met on 14 March and ConstructionSkills provided an update on the forthcoming Positive Image campaign as a way to stimulate discussion on what members see as the barriers to making the industry more diverse. Chrissie Chadney, HR Director for Willmott Dixon also attended to give her perspective on how the company has attracted more women and to encourage members to consider some of the business benefits of a more diverse workforce.

Lively and useful discussion was generated amongst a good turn out of MPs and peers. ConstructionSkills will be following up with the chair of the group and other key members to continue to use the APPG to raise awareness of the issues in the construction industry

Comprehensive Spending Review and the Leitch Review of skills

Skills are currently high on the government agenda and the time is ripe to influence the funding of skills training through a second Comprehensive Spending Review, which will report in 2007. A decade on from the first CSR, the 2007 CSR serves to “identify what further investments and reforms are needed to equip the UK for the global challenges of the decade ahead”. It will represent a long-term and fundamental review of government expenditure and will cover departmental allocations for 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11.

It is understood that The Leitch Review of Skills, due to report later this year, will be the key influencer of the way skills funding decisions are taken in the CSR.

The Leitch Review draws a clear distinction between ‘high level skills’ which bring benefits to productivity and ‘low level skills’ which bring benefits to employment levels. At the moment, it is high level skills which enable the country to compete on a global stage and which the government is most interested in, with low level skills considered to be less of a priority.

The Leitch Review’s interim report has already alluded to the issue of employer contribution to funding and this will also have an impact on the CSR. The final report is likely to address whether “the balance of responsibility [between government, employer and individual] is appropriate and sustainable”. ConstructionSkills will be working hard to make the case for government spending in an environment where pressure is being put on industry to contribute more financially.

Read more Skills Updates

Construction Skills Network
Image of construction
Construction Qualification Strategy
Sector Skills Council
Register for the Skills Update

Site map

print page

Print this page

Terms & Conditions


Privacy Policy




Contact us