Technical Education Reforms - Reassuring for the Construction Industry

Technical Education Reforms - Reassuring for the Construction Industry

19th August 2016

In the wake of the Brexit vote and the ensuing political reshuffles, resignations and appointments, the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will be carrying out reforms on technical education here in the UK.  The reforms are based on recommendations made by an independent panel chaired by Lord Sainsbury and will provide students with a choice of fifteen pathways to progress.

This is of vital importance to the UK economy as we’re currently experiencing a significant shortage of skills, especially in the3 construction industry.  While we’re still not sure how the Brexit vote will impact on the use of skilled labour from overseas, we’re certainly living in uncertain times, economically, so making sure we have enough home grown skilled workers is a vital step forward for Britain right now.

Under the changes, students will be able to choose between and academic or technical pathway once they have taken their GCSEs.  Choosing th3e academic route will mean college-based training or a vocational position such as an apprenticeship.  Then students will be able to move between the two routes (technical and academic) by progressing onto higher technical education, a degree or a higher apprenticeship.  The 15 new pathways onto a career include construction, engineering and manufacturing and each college programme will include training in English, mathematics and digital skills.  Students will also have an option to take a transition years or a traineeship to prepare themselves for their chosen training scheme.

According to Director of Policy at the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), this is a welcome development as construction firms in the UK have been yearning for entrants who have acquired a broader knowledge base before they specialise, which is one of the key targets in the government’s new Skills Plan.  This is likely to ensure that students have a wider understanding of the construction industry as a whole and provide them with more adaptable skills which will serve them well in the future.

Even though students will choose their pathway at the age of 16, the ability to move between the technical route and the academic route means that no options will be closed off to them and they will enjoy more choices and opportunities.  It is hoped that this will put technical and academic learning on an even footing and encourage more youngsters to choose a career in construction.

The reforms are expected to be implemented for the generation of students who sit GCSEs in 2019.  The current system involves 20,000 courses provided by 160 different organisations and it’s believed that this makes it too confusing for students to choose a career path.  The reforms involved what the government describes as “high quality routes”, with content for those streamlined routes and standards developed (and therefore respected) by employers.