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ConstructionSkills welcomes Government White Paper

The sector skills council for construction has responded positively to a Department for Business Innovation and Skills White Paper published this month.

Chief executive of ConstructionSkills Mike Farrar said: “ConstructionSkills welcomes the
proposals set out in the Government’s ‘Skills for Growth’ White Paper, particularly the
strategy’s emphasis on delivering relevant quality skills, with real market value.

“This is something ConstructionSkills, and the industry it supports, has already been delivering with great success.”

Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Lord Mandelson stated in the paper:  “To tackle the gap in intermediate skills in this country, we will expand our apprenticeship numbers to create a modern class of technicians.”

The report highlights that funding will be made available for Sector Skills Councils working with employers and higher education institutions to develop further higher apprenticeship frameworks.

“We welcome the Government’s commitment to creating a modern technician class through more
advanced apprenticeships,” said Mr Farrar. “We view this as essential if we are to maintain our position as a first-class, innovative and competitive industry operating on the world stage.”

Mr Farrar also announced that ConstructionSkills is to form a specialist unit to tackle the need for new skills in the light of sustainability requirements.

“We are working with the construction industry to make sure it has the skills it needs to emerge from recession as an international force, able to beat off competition from Europe and across the world,” he said.

“Modern construction practices and the pressures to achieve social, environmental and commercial sustainability are already creating a demand for new skills, which is why ConstructionSkills has set up a specialist Future Skills Unit to make sure the industry has the training and qualifications it needs.”

He was slightly more cautious in his welcome of the funding system however, adding that: “we will be talking to the BIS to find out more about its proposals to refocus the resources for skills and how it will achieve greater co-funding by employers and individuals.

“The Construction industry already invests heavily in skills – through the Levy and by individual companies investing in skills.

“We note that the report talks of piloting a Joint Investment Scheme from autumn 2010, which will allow sector skills organisations to “raise significant investment'
from employers with match funding from Government. We look forward to exploring these opportunities with BIS.”

Lord Mandelson recently awarded ConstructionSkills a new five-year licence to operate following the finding of a relicensing panel which considered the council to be performing at the upper end of the good standard in many areas of work.

But the White Paper highlights the need to review and to reduce the number of individual Sector Skills Councils over the next three years.