Unions call for more training to tackle construction skills shortage

Unions have urged the government to up its response to a call for increased training provision in the construction industry, which is blighted by skills shortages.


In his submission to the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) inquiry into construction, Bob Blackman, national secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ union, said training was vital to accommodate the 88,000 skilled workers required for the industry annually for the next five years to meet its needs.


“The industry is going to have to realise there is going to have to be more upskilled people, and that they are going to have to pay for it,” he said.


ConstructionSkills called for more “real power to provide employer-led skills and training solutions”. Peter Rogers, deputy chairman of ConstructionSkills, said: “What we need is the maximum flexibility to direct the cash into areas where people require training in very specialist areas, and the rigidity of the funding regimes works against us.”


He said that new technologies in construction were creating specific training needs. “The biggest problem that we have at the moment is the changing skillset. So the constant upskilling of the industry is just as important as new entrants,” Rogers said.


ConstructionSkills chairman Sir Michael Latham added that too few employers took on apprentices. “There is no shortage of young people entering the industry. The shortage is the number of employers working to take on apprentices.”


ConstructionSkills said it was not only offering 7,000 apprenticeships, but qualifying around 20,000 people through colleges and 55,000 people through on-site assessment and training.


Blackman said: “Many people in the industry buy skills off the peg from Eastern Europe and therefore don’t have to invest in skills. The skills places are being filled by Eastern Europeans.”

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