The great skill crisis continues

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The skills crisis in construction is seemingly spiralling out of control as 73 percent of contractors say they are struggling to fill roles for “h...

The skills crisis in construction is seemingly spiralling out of control as 73 percent of contractors say they are struggling to fill roles for “higher skilled” staff.

A survey by the CBI and education specialist Pearson said that Government plans to boost apprenticeships “will not deliver the high-quality, business-relevant training needed” to support the development of the construction sector.

Katja Hall, CBI Deputy Director-General, said: “The Government has set out its stall to create a high-skilled economy, but firms are facing a skills emergency now, threatening to starve economic growth.

“Worryingly, it’s those high-growth, high-value sectors with the most potential which are the ones under most pressure. That includes construction.”

The Government announced plans for a levy on all major employers in the Budget. Construction already has its own training-levy system run via the CITB.

Hall said: “The new levy announced in the budget may guarantee funding for more apprenticeships, but it’s unlikely to equate to higher quality or deliver the skills that industry needs.

“Levies on training already exist in the construction sector where two-thirds of employers are already reporting skills shortages.

“Employers have a critical role in upskilling the workforce, but part of the deal must be for real business control of apprenticeships to meet their needs on the ground.”

The survey also highlighted continuing fears among employers about the standard of teaching in schools. Over a third of firms report some concerns with school leavers’ literacy/use of English (37 percent), basic numeracy (37 percent) and nearly half on communication skills (49 percent).

“Employers consider attitudes and aptitudes more important than any specific qualification or skill, other than practical literacy and numeracy.

“They also want to see young people gaining a greater understanding of the world outside the school gates, by inspiring pupils about career opportunities from a much earlier age and by putting work experience back on the agenda for all young people,” says Hall.

Steve Radley, Director of Policy at the Construction Industry Training Board, said: “Levies alone won’t deliver quality apprenticeships – it is also critical to have proper forecasting of skills demand and better engagement with training providers to meet employer needs.

“But well-designed levy systems, if they have buy-in from employers, can play a positive role in tackling the skills challenge.”

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