Construction Academies: Another plank for Bridging the Widening Skills Gap

The widening skills gap is a growing issue for the construction industry. As the construction workforce ages, not enough young or new workers are entering the industry to replace them. When you couple this with less than perfect skill transfer between senior workers and their younger or less experienced counterparts, you start to see the problem.

A big part of this issue is that there simply are not as many routes to gaining advanced qualifications needed to secure senior industry positions, as there are in other sectors. The construction industry has long relied on apprenticeships and on-the-job training to pass on key skills and while this is effective in small numbers, those numbers aren’t high enough to plug the widening skills gap.


The Bridge is Being Built

As we have said in our previous blog on bridging the gap, there are already organisations looking at solutions. The Government too is looking, and in the Autumn Budget announced the National Retraining Scheme to help facilitate this. £34m was put into ‘innovative training models across the country’ £29m of which is with Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

It has been recently announced that, as part of this scheme the Government is planning to back the building of ‘between 10 and 20 academies’ across the UK that would focus on construction. Like many other academies sponsored by specific companies or bodies, they would offer students all of their curriculum learning with additional opportunities in and around the Construction Industry facilitated by the sponsor.

In essence, these academies could provide a new wave of Construction savvy young people, skilled up and ready join the industry. At this point, the CITB (a public body sponsored by the Department for Educations (DFE)) is preparing to commission bids from organisations within the sector to sponsor these academies.  The DFE has been in discussion with the Home Builders Federation (HBF) and CITB.

Some locally-based skills academies or hubs, which might be site-based, looking at how to attract new entrants to the industry that we’re not necessarily reaching at the moment.
You’d be talking, realistically, about several hundred students at the very least, but probably rather more than that.

John Slaughter, Director of External Affairs at HBF