Construction students not ready to be on site: FMB

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) has stated that changes announced this week to A-level qualifications for construction students will result in workers without the right skills that are required in the workplace.

New technical qualifications are due to be available to students from 2020, with construction among the first subjects to be included. Known as T-levels, the two-year course will be largely classroom-based with a three-month work placement.

FMB Chief Executive Brian Berry has stated that students who have completed a T-level should not be able to describe themselves as qualified. He suggests that the government needs to be more realistic about the amount of time it takes to achieve the knowledge and skills an onsite worker will need. He says that a qualified worker should require post T-level experience.

Berry says that small and medium-sized companies are likely to view those with a T-level as being good trainees or apprentices, but he does concede that the government has made work placements as flexible as possible by allowing placements to be with more than one employer and that this will encourage employers to offer more opportunities.

Berry also suggests that the Construction Training Board should offer financial incentives to employers that offer work placements as on average an employer will pay an additional £500 per placement for their Employers Liability insurance. They also have the costs of supervision.

Despite all this, Berry believes that the T-levels could have the potential to offer parity between vocational and academic education and that the FMB will work closely with the government to overcome the challenges.