News Ticker

Construction industry trainees earning dud qualifications despite skills shortage

Information from an FOI request has revealed that the majority of the 167,000 young people studying for construction qualifications will be ignored – unless they have an NVQ.

Tens of thousands of trainees wanting to work in the building trade are leaving with dud qualifications, new research shows.

Despite a shortage of skilled workers only 18,000 people secured an apprenticeship in the construction industry last year.

A Freedom of Information request by the UCATT union found 167,000 young people started a training course in construction but the vast majority will not get the qualification needed to work on site.

UCATT said the Government was effectively “pouring money down the drain” by funding dead end courses.

To work on site you need an NVQ qualification that is best achieved through studying an apprenticeships.

But the analysis found only 12% the trainees on construction courses secure an apprenticeship.

Of the 167,970 students who started a construction course in 2014/15, 136,960 were at General FE colleges and tertiary colleges, 19,780 were in private colleges funded by the public sector, and 11,240 were social enterprises.

Labour MP Teresa Pearce said: “The clearest and easiest way for us to solve the housing crisis is by building more homes, and to do that we need to ensure that the construction industry has enough appropriately trained and qualified workers.

“These figures show that the Government is standing by while the construction industry suffers a skills crisis, and while young people’s futures are put at risk.

“The Government urgently needs to get a grip on this situation, and work with the construction industry, colleges, and students to ensure that we have a construction sector capable of providing the homes we desperately need.”

UCATT Acting General Secretary, Brian Rye, said: “I’m horrified by these figures. What a waste of talent and Government money, to take these young people through a course and then have them ignored by the construction industry.

“We have a well-documented skills shortage in the construction industry and we have major constructors failing to take on apprentices.

“And yet hundreds of thousands of young people who want to work in the industry are just left on the scrap heap.”

Mr Rye added: “This is a calamity for the British construction industry. Young people are being thrown to the wind. Hundreds of thousands of talented, enthusiastic young people are having their career hopes dashed by a complacent and self-serving industry.

Meanwhile, the Government will announce plans to reform Britain’s universities on Monday. These will include allowing more colleges to apply for university status.

Universities will also have to publish details of applications broken down by ethnicity, gender and socio-economic background.

The Department of Business said this would “shine a spotlight” on institutions which fail to recruit students from under privileged and black and minority ethnic backgrounds.