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Construction: Skilled Workers

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL16616, tabled on 24 June 2019

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps, if any, they are taking to address a reported shortage of skilled workers in the construction industry due to Brexit uncertainty.

Answered on

8 July 2019

As we prepare to leave the EU, we continue to contribute to the work with the Home Office on future migration arrangements.

The government’s role is to make the skills system more responsive to demand. We are reforming the technical education system to be more responsive to the needs of employers. These reforms sit alongside our now-established programme of apprenticeship reforms.

60 apprenticeship standards for construction routes are now approved for delivery, with more in development. We are also running pilots across the country to raise the profile of apprenticeships in disadvantaged areas, to improve access to apprenticeships in key sectors such as engineering, manufacturing and construction.

In the Construction Sector Deal, the construction industry has committed to raising the number of apprenticeship starts to 25,000 starts per year by 2025.

Construction is also one of the first routes for T level delivery, with the Design and Planning pathway launching in 2020. The Onsite Construction and Building Engineering pathways are expected to launch in 2021.

The construction industry has shown that it values T Levels and has committed through the Construction Sector Deal to offering 1000 work placements from 2020. This will enable all Construction T level students to access a high quality, real-life experience which will help make sure that they are ‘site-ready’ on completion of their course.

Collectively, these reforms will improve the supply of new entrants to the construction sector. Officials estimate that these changes will increase the number of new sector entrants by approximately 25% by the mid-2020s.

For adults already in the labour market, construction offers a range of high quality job opportunities. The Construction Skills Fund is a cross-government programme with industry and is underway to address the current skills shortages in the sector. The department was allocated £24 million to support the development of on-site construction training hubs across England in 2018-19 and 2019-2020. The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) are allocating this fund and have committed to delivering more than 20 hubs that will train 13,000 employment-ready learners by March 2020.

The CITB provides a wide range of services and initiatives to mitigate the current skills shortages, including paying grants to employers to carry out training to improve standards, adopting modern methods of construction (MMC), improving careers advice and improving site readiness and transitions from study to work, including through a new “boot camp” pilot scheme initiative.

Lastly, the government is encouraging the expansion of MMC, which presents the opportunity to greatly reduce the level of skilled workers needed on building sites using these methods.

The department has built 57 schools using MMC and, this financial year, we plan to open another 21 schools. The department has announced a new procurement framework with a value of up to £3 billion for MMC solutions in schools. This framework is due to go live by November 2019.