A changing economic landscape and the introduction of new technologies is transforming the construction industry in the UK. The FE sector knows this will have huge implications for skills training and development going forwards, but how can we ensure that we are fully preparing apprentices for these changes and does this mean we should be switching focus away from traditional trades?
Looking to discuss these issues, WorldSkills UK (WSUK) recently convened representatives from education, the construction industry and governments. Attendees included representatives from Mace, BAM Nuttall, Kier, CITB, Dudley College, Leeds College of Building and the Department for Education.
All those in attendance at the WorldSkills UK Construction Round Table agreed that a ‘twin-track approach to skills’ needs to be maintained. With the technological changes that are happening within the construction industry, we must not forget the role and importance of attracting young people into traditional trades like bricklaying, plastering and tiling. These skills are a crucial part of the supply chain now and will remain so in the future.
However, a key component of these traditional trades is how we merge new technologies into these trades. This means there needs to be further strengthening of the collaboration between FE Institutions and industry, creating greater employer engagement. Skills Competitions can provide a suitable vehicle to achieve this, and also provide opportunities for closer working with organisations at every level in the construction industry.
WorldSkills UK is currently preparing a team of 22 young apprentices and learners to compete at EuroSkills Budapest 2018, Europe’s largest skills competition which takes place from 26 – 28 September.
I am training Mark Scott, a 20-year-old apprentice who attends City of Glasgow College and who works for McGoldrick & Sons. Mark will represent the UK in Wall and Floor Tiling, competing against apprentice tilers from countries across Europe. Mark was selected after he excelled in the National Finals of the SkillBuild Competitions, which are organised by CITB and run in partnership with WorldSkills UK.
Competing against the best apprentices in Europe is no easy feat and Mark is spending every spare minute, when he is not working, training for the Competition. It is this level of commitment which will help him succeed, but without the support of RUBI UK and Ireland, British Ceramic Tiles, The Tile Association, BAL Adhesives and The Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers, who have provided resources for Mark’s training we simply would not be able to compete.
Speaking with the organisations, to understand why they want to support the UK’s participation in international skills competitions, it is clear they see it as an opportunity to engage with the Colleges in the FE Sector that are involved in WorldSkills UK Competitions and the training programmes being run.
For me, it is also an opportunity to discuss my training programmes for Mark with his sponsors and see if there are any other key trends in industry which we should be incorporating and focusing on. It is this collaboration which the Construction Round Table referenced as so important, and must be built on, to future proof the construction industry.
Competing at EuroSkills, also enables WorldSkills UK to look at trends throughout Europe. Against the backdrop of Brexit, it also enables us to showcase the skills of our apprentices in skills ranging from construction, engineering through to the digital industries as the UK prepares to leave the EU.
Those in attendance at the Round Table also expressed the need to engage better with schools to attract more young people to take up careers in construction. When hosting training sessions at Southern Regional College and City of Glasgow College for Mark and Daniel McBurney, who along with Mark is in training as part of Squad UK for WorldSkills Kazan 2019, I always invite other students to come and watch, including those who are part of the school engagement programmes.
By watching the UK’s top apprentices at work, they see first-hand the skills needed in these trades. However, they are also able to speak with past competitors, from previous international skills competitions, who help me deliver the training. These former competitors now run successful businesses employing their own apprentices or are part of senior management teams on sites.
They say their impressive career success is as a result of participating in WorldSkills UK Competitions and the high-level skills they learnt for the competitions, which is what industry is looking for in new candidates. These role models are exactly what is needed to show young people, their parents and teachers the full range of opportunities available in construction.
WorldSkills UK will take the recommendations from its Construction Round Table, and any further learnings from EuroSkills Budapest 2018 to WorldSkills UK LIVE and showcase them through the different features of the event.
Paul Doran, Southern Regional College and WorldSkills UK Training Manager
To follow and show your support for Team UK at EuroSkills Budapest 2018 use #TeamUK
WorldSkills UK Construction Roundtable: The future of construction is manufacturing
This roundtable event was conceived out of a need to develop a future-facing perspective on where the construction industry is moving to in terms of technology, and the implications this has for skills training and development. WorldSkills UK, a partnership between governments, industry and the FE and skills sector, convened this discussion for stakeholders to consider how we prepare for the future.