The Unite union has discovered that the number of classroom based construction courses increased by 14% last year – totally dwarfing the number of apprentices beginning their training.
Unite is describing the courses as ‘dead-end’ because trainees are only usually able to achieve a technical qualification because they don’t have access to on-site training.
The only qualification recognised in construction is the NVQ and this can’t be achieved without substantial site experience.
An NVQ or equivalent qualification is necessary to acquire a Construction Sector Certification Scheme (CSCS) card required to work on sites.
In most cases people undertaking classroom training have no avenue to achieve an NVQ.
In 2015/16 a total of 192,500 people began a classroom based construction course, compared to 167,000 in 2014/15.
During the same 12 months just 21,460 people began a construction apprenticeship meaning 89% of people beginning a construction course are undertaking potentially ‘dead-end’ training.
Acting general secretary, Gail Cartmail, said: “For whatever reason we find ourselves in the terrible situation of increasingly offering young people a classroom construction course but also in effect denying them the chance to acquire the qualifications needed to enter the industry in a skilled role.
“Classroom based construction teaching has a vital role to play in the training of construction apprentices.
“What is urgently needed is a refocussing of resources to ensure that money is more effectively invested in boosting the number of genuine apprenticeships, so that a far higher number of young people can acquire the skills and qualifications to enter the industry.
“We need to build an effective alliance including: Unite, employers, FE colleges, apprentice providers and the government to boost apprenticeships and ensure young people are able to access meaningful courses.
“The record of small and medium sized businesses in training apprentices is far superior to that of the major contractors.
“If we are going to begin bridging the skills gap then the major players must undertake far more of the heavy lifting.”