Institutions welcome Tomlinson proposals to teach trade skills from age of 14, but warn that no funding is in place

The Construction Confederation has warned the government that its drive to expand and improve vocational training risks being undermined by a shortfall in funding.

The criticism comes after publication this week of the Tomlinson report into education, which proposed, among other things, increased access to practical subjects and apprenticeships.

A Construction Confederation spokesperson said the report needed to be grounded in financial reality before it could work.

He said: “The report is visionary, but unfortunately vision doesn’t pay the bills. Although it acknowledges the need for a more vocationally based system, it does not assure that there will be adequate funding for it.”

This concern was shared by the Construction Industry Training Board. A spokesperson for the board said: “The report rightly acknowledges that any expansion of work-based learning for young people will have resource implications.

This will need to be worked through in the months ahead.”

Under the proposals outlined by Mike Tomlinson, a former chief inspector of schools, pupils would be offered courses in vocational subjects such as construction from the age of 14. They could then spend part of each week working with an industry training provider or specialist college.

The Construction Confederation is also alarmed by Tomlinson’s suggestion that A levels and GSCEs could be replaced by a diploma. This would offer students the opportunity to mix vocational subjects with academic work, but may lead to the demise of National Vocational Qualifications.

The confederation’s spokesperson said: “The NVQ is the industry’s standard, and we are worried that it could disappear. We want to determine the NVQ’s future before backing proposals.”

However, the spokesperson praised the report’s focus on vocational training as an alternative to academic study. He said: “The confederation has been campaigning for increased provision of vocational training, and we warmly welcome attempts to deliver this.”