Constructions workers are being advised to tackle the skills gap by passing on their expertise to learners.

This move, campaigners believe, will lead to an increase in the number of people working with the correct skills package for the job. At the forefront of the recruitment campaign is Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK), and the agency is advocating retraining to employees in the construction industry. This, it hopes, will enable them to become teachers, and provide the manpower colleges need to teach construction courses to successive generation of workers.

Hope's Hopes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Skills, Phil Hope MP, said he was optimistic this project would compliment other government initiatives in helping employers discover and narrow skills gaps in the sector. "This is an exciting time for construction with the 2012 Olympics and the government is working closely with our partners to ensure we rise to the challenge to deliver world class skills for the capital and the whole country," he said.

In a similar reaction to the project, LLUK employer and stakeholder relations manager, Leah Swain said she looked forward to seeing enough construction workers that would accept teaching as an attractive professional opportunity. She said: "We are being as flexible as possible in offering them an opportunity to pass on their skills to others. "There is a range of working patterns available; the world of teaching is no longer confined to the classroom with far more opportunities to learn in different environments, including the workplace itself."

Behind the Scenes

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) funds the campaign and LLUK works closely with two other Sector Skills Councils (SSCs), ConstructionSkills and SummitSkills, on the project. It shall seek to find construction workers who never taught in the past, but who wish to train as teachers or as assessors and verifiers.

A MORI survey recently conducted by the DfES suggested that there were vacancies in 90 of the 153 further education colleges in England that run construction courses. 78 % of them said the vacancies were hard to fill. Not fewer than 26 % of the colleges were forced to delay courses due to a shortage of the right (trained) manpower. And 11 % ended up abandoning them altogether. The current campaign by the government to increase levels of house building, in addition to projects linked to the 2012 Olympic Games in London, may result in an increased demand for people with this expertise.

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Recruited staff would be expected to be in a position to deliver one of the new specialised diplomas that would be introduced to 14-19 year olds from September 2008. The diplomas will focus on vocational subjects that include construction. The recruitment campaign will consist of media based advertising, along with a helpline to put prospective teachers in touch with teacher training providers in their area.

Musa Aliyu

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