Core Craft Training

Over the past 30 or so years successive governments have failed to provide core building trade craft training and the current Coalition Government is not addressing the problem.

Currently we are told that there are nearly 3 million unemployed young people and yet the building industry is so short of trained people that the majority of skilled building craftsmen working on current projects are from overseas. Most come from Eastern Europe and are highly trained at craft colleges where they have completed a full time three year course followed by further training with their local employers.

Similar craft training courses were available in the UK 30 years ago until persuasive academics influenced those in charge of the education system and insisted that all pupils, irrespective of ability, must be academically educated. 

A large percentage of young people would benefit from training that would lead to full time employment in the building industry if craft training at colleges were to be available throughout this country. Apprenticeship schemes will not work in sufficient numbers to substantially reduce youth unemployment.

Given appropriate teaching facilities and competent training over a three year period some 100,000 young people could be absorbed into the building industry and like the majority of the existing skilled craftsmen be guaranteed a job for life.

With the abolition of our state run building craft training colleges politicians were persuaded to sanction the foundation for an industry lead training board funded by a levy on all established building companies for the purpose of reimbursing those builders then training indentured craft apprentices.

Unfortunately the Construction Industry Training Board's performance in ensuring that adequate numbers are trained for these core building trades over the past 20 years can only be described as abysmal. The evidence is clearly seen and understood by all in the building industry.

Currently builders provide over £140,000,000 per annum in levy payments to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and the CITB provides part funding for training of 40,000 people in a very wide number of trades but only 9000 in the core trades. (600 bricklayers, 4000 carpenters and joiners, 700 plasterers, 800 roofers, 3000 painters and decorators). The CITB has no remit to fund the training of plumbers and heating engineers. It does however part fund the training of many other non-core trades where many of the benefiting employers do not contribute to the CITB levy. Many builders employ plumbers and heating engineers and pay the CITB levy but do not benefit from the part funding of training of these trades.

As a direct result of the failure of the CITB to address core craft training a number of independent craft training centres have been established offering to train applicants, for a substantial fee, in a City and Guilds curriculum leading to the award by them of a suitable NVQ in the chosen craft.

The problem with this type of training is that the applicant having paid a substantial amount of money must find full time employment with a suitable building company in order that the trainee can demonstrate their competence. This on-site training and experience particularly in the plumbing and heating discipline often takes two to three years.

There are a few well-meaning building contractors who provide opportunities for young people but the numbers are totally inadequate.

The core building trades are: carpenters and joiners, bricklayers, plumbers and heating engineers, painters and decorators, plasterers and roofers. The failure to make craft training facilities available to young people from the age of 15 is an indictment of previous and the present government. Education policies have let down thousands of now unemployed people and it seems that the present administration has no plans to rectify the situation.

The Guild of Builders and Contractors are conducting further research into the activities and performance of the Construction Industry Training Board and Gas Safe. Results and comment will be the subject of future blogs.


1 comment(s) for “Core Craft Training”

  1. Keith Mallinson Says:

    As a teacher I welcome your views - we are bogged down with buraucracy - schemes of work, lesson plans etc all thought up by people who have been out of a classroom for too long and are only interested in outcomes. How I welcome a return to good old fashioned teaching and yes technical colleges to train apprentices. It is time we brought back vocational training into secondary schools for those non academic students

Leave comment