20th March 2017

T Levels: are they the answer for the construction workforce?

By Ben Kilshaw

Now that the Chancellor has undertaken a U turn on National Insurance Contributions, the other headline point from the budget for the construction industry was the introduction of “T Levels”. These have been mentioned by the Prime Minister previously and the Chancellor announced in the budget a £500m per annum funding for the new T Level qualification intended to be a technical and more practical alternative to A Levels. This has been welcomed by the construction industry to assist with its skills shortage particularly in a post-Brexit Britain.

The new T Level is viewed as a genuine alternative to rival A Levels for those wishing to pursue a more technical and vocational education. The expectation is that this will enable more talented young people to enter a career in the construction industry and provide the construction workforce with the high level of skill needed for the future.  However, many commentators are concerned that this is not enough to tackle the current skills shortage in the workforce.

The aim of the investment is to grow the number of teaching hours received by post-16 year old students on technical courses by 50%.  However, it is felt that additional capital investment will be needed by education establishments to actually meet this target. The Government’s funding is viewed as only half the amount needed to actually deliver an effective “T Level” for students.

If the new “T Levels” are successful then this will deliver a boost of skilled workers to the construction industry but with the contraction in the construction workforce following the last recession and an ageing workforce, many feel that more action is needed.

The skills shortage needs to be tackled both in terms of the perception of opportunities for talented young people entering the construction industry, more apprenticeships being made available and better pay during training periods. There also needs to be an ongoing commitment from the Government to fund large infrastructure projects.



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