The government has set out plans to transform the training and skills system, making it fit for the 21st century economy, and helping the country build back better from coronavirus. And construction industry representatives are calling for the sector to be made a strategic priority for life-long learning.
Adults without an A-Level or equivalent qualification will be offered a free, fully-funded college course – providing them with skills valued by employers, and the opportunity to study at a time and location that suits them.
This offer will be available from April in England, and will be paid for through the National Skills Fund.
The Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said: “We’re transforming the foundations of the skills system so that everyone has the chance to train and retrain.”
Apprenticeship opportunities will also be increased, with more funding for SMEs taking on apprentices, and greater flexibility in how their training is structured – especially in sectors such as construction and creative industries where there are more varied employment patterns.
In response to the Prime Minister’s speech yesterday outlining an expansion of post-18 education and training Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), said: “The Government intends for us to ‘build, build, build’ our way to economic recovery, but the construction industry is facing a skills shortage which is hampering our ability to do so. One in three builders can’t hire a bricklayer and one in four can’t hire general labourers. The Government is right to invest in further education, but it should focus on the building trades as a priority.
“The Government’s pledge to review and reform apprenticeship training is very encouraging provided it can lead to more local builders training more apprentices. This should mean forging stronger links between SMEs and colleges so that they have access to the communication and support that they need. Extra funding for colleges needs to include ringfenced funds for them to employ industry liaison officers who could act as a conduit between the colleges, students and employers to help join up the dots.”