Can T Levels address the construction skills shortage?

Can T Levels address the construction skills shortage?

The Government must be realistic about the capabilities and work-readiness of students who have completed construction T Levels, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Commenting on the Government’s response to the T Level consultation, Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “The idea that a student who has completed a T Level in bricklaying is able to call themselves a qualified bricklayer is not credible. The Government must be realistic about how much can be achieved in two years of largely college-based learning. Although T Levels include a three-month work placement, when the rest of the individual’s knowledge and skills are acquired in the classroom, in construction they will need more time onsite, post-T Level, before they can and should describe themselves as being qualified in that trade. Small and medium-sized construction firms, which do the bulk of training in our industry, would rather view T Levels as a rich pool of talent through which to find apprentices.

“More positively, the Government has listened to the concerns of the construction industry and stated its intention to make work placements as flexible as possible. In construction, work placements are not popular or common so persuading sufficient numbers of employers to offer these opportunities will be challenging. The Government being open to the three-month placement being achieved through more than one employer is therefore vital. However, to ensure work placements are as attractive as possible, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) should consider offering financial incentives to employers through CITB Grant. We know, for example, that a typical construction SME is likely to shell out an additional £500 for their Employers’ Liability insurance because of having a young person onsite for three months. This is on top of the resource needed to closely supervise that young person. If employers can be financially incentivised somehow, it would be helpful.”

BSRIA has also welcomed the Government announcement of the first 52 schools and colleges across England to teach new technical qualifications called T-levels.   

Julia Evans, Chief Executive, BSRIA, said: “BSRIA welcomes T-levels as an important part of the suite of professional learning pathways open to those embarking on their future careers. It is encouraging that construction and, a year later, engineering are subjects which will be included. This is a really big reform which will help the UK compete on a global stage and help with the evident skills shortage.

“Skilled engineering graduates are essential to BSRIA and the industry workforce of tomorrow. The construction sector’s demand for suitable skilled workers is as crucial as ever. What is clear is that T-levels, A-levels, apprenticeships and TechBacc programmes are all equally vital.”

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