Employers shun degrees when looking for work-ready recruits
Construction apprenticeships are better than degrees at preparing young people for work, according to an in-depth study of work-readiness released today by CITB-ConstructionSkills.
The 'Ready for Work?' report spoke to 300 construction employers across the UK, all of whom had employed at least one qualified young person in the last two years. On average, employers rated apprenticeships and S/NVQs as roughly seven out of ten in terms of their effectiveness at delivering work-ready young people (6.97 and 6.75 respectively), compared to an average score of 5.5 for degree qualifications.
The three top areas of strength for both apprenticeships and S/NVQs were identified by the employers surveyed as training in health, safety and legislation; how to move, handle and store resources; and team working. However, additional training was often needed in other areas, and in most cases, provided in-house by colleagues - with the three most common areas where qualifications fell short being job-specific technical skills; estimating and costing; and IT skills.
Speaking about the findings, Mark Farrar, chief executive of CITB-ConstructionSkills, said: "Although it's great to see that employers clearly appreciate the training that our apprentices have, it's still a cause for concern that many feel they have to offer 'top up training' in some key areas. At CITB-ConstructionSkills, we're committed to attracting top talent into the sector and ensuring they are as prepared as they can be for the sorts of challenges they face when they enter full time employment.
"For that reason, that we've been working very closely with employers, government and training providers to ensure that qualifications meet the practical needs of construction companies - lobbying for longer apprenticeship programmes, for example, and working with higher education to ensure the relevance of degree programmes. However, there's clearly more to be done in this area to minimize the need for immediate further development for new entrants into the sector."
Open responses given by the employees surveyed overwhelmingly called for a greater element of practical, workplace-based training to be included in all qualifications, with many respondents highlighting the need to include softer skills such as communication and commercial awareness. The importance of regular communications with training providers to ensure the skills being taught reflect the changing needs of the sector also emerged as a key theme.
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