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27 November 2007

Flexible funding key to up-skilling construction industry workforce

ConstructionSkills makes recommendations to Select Committee on skills provision

ConstructionSkills has today advised the Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) Select Committee that flexible funding regimes are essential to ensure appropriate skills provision to the industry’s growing workforce.

The recommendation formed part of the evidence given by ConstructionSkills to the BERR Select Committee, as the group of MPs continue their ongoing review of the construction industry. ConstructionSkills also highlighted to the Committee the central role of Government as the industry’s largest construction client, with the employers through the supply chain.

The key recommendations made to the Select Committee included:

  • Government needs to provide flexible solutions for the funding of construction skills and training, particularly in the case of providing adult apprenticeships and specialist training provision. Investing in training and qualifying adult learners should form a key focus of the future channelling of funding, along with higher funding levels for specialist areas such as plant training which are costly to deliver.
  • As the industry’s largest client, Government can set a best practice example in the procurement process, by emphasising the value of investing in the workforce’s skills base, as opposed to focusing on the short term issue of cost. This should include clauses in contracts around training and use of fully qualified workers.

The evidence also sought to highlight how the industry has responded well to growth of 20% in the last five years. With the trend expected to continue, there is a significant challenge ahead to ensure there are enough people with the right skills in place. Despite this, based on current forecasts, the industry is not facing a general skills shortage, although there are likely to be pinch points in certain trades and in certain regions.

For example in Greater London, based on the current training supply, there are enough bricklayers and carpenters in the industry or in training to meet future demand, but there is a shortage of roofers, glaziers, plant mechanics and scaffolders.

Sir Michael Latham, Chairman, ConstructionSkills, said:

“It is vital that the Government listens to our recommendations. Whilst the industry is not experiencing a general skills crisis, we do face a significant challenge to respond to future growth with the right skills. We must work together with the construction community and Government to ensure that the up-skilling of the workforce continues, and that workers’ skills meet the future demands of the industry’s pipeline of work.”

Peter Lobban, Chief Executive, ConstructionSkills, commented:

“We really value the opportunity to make our recommendations to the Select Committee. Employers are telling us that providing flexible funding will aid the provision of future training programmes for workers and this is particularly the case for schemes such as adult apprenticeships. As well as offering a means to increase diversity within the industry, adult apprenticeships could also unlock a pool of potential recruits, which will be key to delivering the necessary skills to an industry which saw £160 billion1 worth of new projects commence this year alone.”

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