Industry gives a mixed reaction to the government’s latest technical training initiative

The government’s plans to roll out a new set of technical courses for young people have been hailed as a step in the right direction, but for some the devil will be in the detail.

The CBI gave the recent announcement concerning the introduction of “T-levels” a warm welcome – the employers’ organisation said it was “delighted” with the proposals.

And trade body Build UK sounded positive. It said in a statement: “We would be supportive of the ‘T level’ initiative as we know from our members that some students are not being equipped with the experience and knowledge to be ‘site ready’ when they leave college.

“The details set out in the Post-16 Skills Plan propose 15 technical education routes (including construction), which would consist of a generic first year course for all construction route FE students, with specialisation in the second year.”

This is something that could feed into the training course we deliver, but we need to know more

Chris Jones, Bam Group

Build UK said that in response to contractor member feedback it had recently launched, in collaboration with national colleges group Collab Group, a one-year further education course designed to help address technical qualification shortcomings.

The “Bridge into Construction” course – launched last month – will be piloted by seven colleges across the country and “will provide a consistent level of training and competence and equip students with the introductory skills they need to embark on an apprenticeship in construction”, Build UK said.

Meanwhile Chris Jones, director of learning and development at the Bam Group, said while he had not seen the detail behind the new courses, he hoped it was not yet another scheme that failed to live up to expectations.

“This is something that could feed into the training course we deliver, but we need to know more. How, for example, will these new courses feed into apprenticeships?”

Jones said what was lacking in education was progression, linking up between schools and FE colleges and – ultimately – employers; there needed to be a greater degree of joined-up thinking, he said.

“This mustn’t be ‘just another initiative’ that proves to be inappropriate; it must bridge that gap.”