Further education should be valued as highly as university education, according to report funding by contractors

Woman on site

Contractors have urged the government to divert £500m from universities to help fund professional and technical education.

The call comes in a report by think tank the Policy Exchange, funded by Wates and the CITB. The Higher, Further, Faster, More report also calls for further education to be valued on a par with higher education, with expansion of government-backed student loans extended to further education, as well as the introduction of maintenance support.

According to this report, only 10% of 25-40 year olds in England have a post-secondary vocational qualification, compared to 22% in the US.

Over the next five years the construction industry needs over 220,000 people to enter the industry, many of which will be in high skilled jobs from civil engineering to construction management.

The report hopes to influence government thinking and funding priorities ahead of the Spending Review on 25 November.

The review comes as the government reviews how to fund construction training ahead of the planned introduction of a pan-sector apprenticeship levy, with the CITB set to be revamped or axed.

Jonathan Simons, head of education at Policy Exchange, said: “The case for training and for skills has never been more important - to help create 3 million Apprenticeships, to fuel the Northern Powerhouse, to boost social mobility and to drive economic growth.

“The UK is home to world beating universities that we should all be proud of. But as well as degrees, we also need many more people with high class technical and professional skills - and that means a flourishing further education system.”

Steve Radley, director of policy at the CITB, said: “This report offers a radical rethink of the way education funding is allocated.

“Industry needs a reformed FE sector to provide the skills needed for productivity and growth. It is vital that we find the most effective way for FE to deliver this.”