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Specialised Diplomas set to ensure work-ready new recruits for construction

Employers called on to take part in consultation through ConstructionSkills

The construction industry will be one of the first sectors to benefit from a range of new ‘Specialised Diplomas’ for the 14-19 age group, introduced by the Government earlier this year. This reform is in response to research which shows that GCSEs and A-levels are still more valued and better understood by employers, and the feeling that some young people are entering the workforce without the basic skills they need to do their jobs.

From 2008, 14-19 year olds will be offered greater choice in the courses, subjects and qualifications they take through the Diplomas, making it easier to gain the basic skills needed for life and work. Diplomas will be introduced alongside GCSEs and A- levels. This means rather than all young people doing a set of standard subjects and specialising once their school education finishes, students will be offered the opportunity of an education that meets their learning style, and subject and career interests.

The qualifications are being developed in consultation with employers from each sector, to ensure that they really meet the needs of specific industries.

Sheila Hoile, Skills Strategy Director for ConstructionSkills explains: “Specialised Diplomas will offer real benefit to employers. They will reduce recruitment and training costs as young people with this qualification will have made an informed choice about what kind of work they want to do, and they will have the employability skills that enable them to get on in the workplace from the outset.

“We’re very pleased that the Construction and the Built Environment Diploma will be one of the first five to be introduced by 2008, as this is another step towards the re-introduction of vocational education in schools, something which we know will improve the perception of our industry among young people.”

ConstructionSkills is heading up a team of Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) in the development of this qualification. Individual SSCs will be consulting with employers in their sectors. ConstructionSkills’ consultation with employers will take a number of forms including:

  • a dedicated website to provide more information and encourage employers to input into the consultation online –
  • a consultation event in London on 8 March 2006 (details and registration will be available on the web site)
  • a mailing to a selection of employers containing a hard-copy questionnaire.

Hoile continues: “We urge all employers – from all sectors of the industry and all sizes of company – to give us their views as part of this consultation. We know industry currently feels there are gaps in the skills and knowledge acquired by young people at school and this is our chance to have a say to redress the balance.”

The Specialised Diplomas will comprise a combination of:

  • functional skills in maths, English and ICT; vocational, sector and occupationally specific learning; wider employability skills; and work experience
  • the best of current qualifications including GCSE’s and A-Levels where appropriate, but will also include new content where needs are identified by employers
  • more opportunities to learn in a different, more adult environment, including the potential for experience in the workplace.

Critical to the construction industry will be that GCSEs in maths and English are being updated to include new functional skills content. This will mean that in future, no young person will be able to get a GCSE grade C or above in these subjects, or a Specialised Diploma, without having mastered core numeracy and literacy skills. These functional skills will be defined in partnership with employers and higher education institutions to ensure they meet the requirements of post-16 employment and education.

Delivery of the Diplomas will be through local partnerships between schools, colleges and employers so that young people will be taught in the most appropriate environments by people with relevant and up-to-date skills.

For more information, please read the full press release

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