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The British Association of Construction Heads Publishes New Research Report: ‘Position on Resources and Equipment for Modern Digital Construction’

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Today, the British Association of Construction Heads (BACH) launches a new research report ‘Position on Resources and Equipment for Modern Digital Construction’.  BACH hopes the new report will stimulate the debate regarding staffing, investment, and equipment to support the training and development needs of the sector, as construction projects are essential for our economic recovery as we come out of the pandemic.

The construction industry faces a major skill shortage following Brexit, particularly in skilled trades and occupations, with the added pressure to up-skill the workforce to support more productive modern SMART methods, green skills, and off-site manufacturing. Sufficient knowledge and equipped training capacity needs to be in place.

BACH members have been reporting significant concerns over the availability of adequate funding to match the investment needed as well as the difficulties in recruiting and retaining suitably experienced tutors and assessors.

Accordingly, BACH decided to survey its members to try to gain an insight of the scale of the challenges.  The research survey, which took place at the end of 2021 and early 2022, has identified the following worrying findings:

  • Nearly three quarters of colleges report that investment levels, in equipment to support the new digital SMART technologies and modern methods, needed to increase or in the case of 12% were completely inadequate;
  • Only 36% of colleges consider that there is enough expenditure available for materials and course content to successfully delivery training;
  • Staff vacancy rates are quoted as varying across the country from 10% to 40%; with most colleges stating vacancy rates are 15 to 25%; and
  • Colleges are having to offer improved packages, golden hello’s, market supplements and higher pay in the range of 10% to 30%.

For context, the current situation post Brexit sees high demands particularly for operational Level 2 competencies.  Skilled trades, such as bricklayers, carpenters, plasters, plant operatives, civil engineering groundworkers and plant operatives are crucial for the industry’s success. At present they represent 60.4% of the workforce (i.e. 1.37 million people) and some 75% of these are at level 2 or below. Even by 2025 skilled trades and plant operatives will still be 59.9 % of the workforce (1.42 million people). This is an increase of 49,000 Level 2 and below jobs; plus of course the replacements needed for retirement and natural churn.

Whilst welcoming the investment by the Westminster Government, on Construction Occupational Traineeships at Level 1 and the Design, Surveying and Planning T Level, there also needs for continued investment in Level 2 apprenticeships and qualifications. In addition, the UK needs to establish clearer progression routes that can, over-time, facilitate a move from Level 2 to practical competencies at Level 3 for more of the workforce.

Finally, it is vital to begin to substantially increase investment in training for new digital methods of working as well as off-site manufacturing the on-site assembly skills and green skills.

Graham Hasting-Evans, President of BACH and Chief Executive of NOCN commented on the findings, “The combined challenge of skills gaps and also the need to re-skill the workforce for SMART modern methods, off-site manufacturing and green skills is enormous. We cannot do this without substantial additional investment in equipment, materials and all importantly our tutors and assessors. And let’s remember we cannot train the workforce until we’ve first of all trained the trainers and assessors.” Lee Mills, Chair of BACH and Head of School: Innovation Technical Centre, Milton Keynes College added, “If we are going to be able to recruit and retain great teachers who have the up to date skills and knowledge we are going to have to pay them the competitive industry rate. To do that the funding rates need to cover the additional costs.”

Download the full report

ABOUT BACH

BACH’s members are Heads of Construction Training at FE colleges and Training Providers in the UK.  For over 30 years BACH has been run for and by its members.  Membership is open to colleges and appropriate organisations that are passionate about quality and standards in construction education and training.  Excellent CPD and networking opportunities are regularly delivered by BACH, with content driven by members.

BACH works with awarding bodies, Ofsted, partners, government departments and cooperated with partners to campaign for realistic funding to train the next generation of young people to succeed in the wider construction industry.

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