Training courses in construction, planning and the built environment need to get better at meeting the demands of today’s Welsh economy in order to benefit learners and local employers.
Estyn’s report, Training for construction, planning and the built environment, found that further education institutions (FEIs) and work-based learning (WBL) providers deliver traditional construction skills qualifications that have been available and in demand for many years. But these providers do not always take into account information about local labour markets so that the courses and qualifications offered are better matched to local employment opportunities in the construction industry. In addition, the same courses are often offered by different providers in the same geographical area, which is not the best use of resources or funding.
Ann Keane, Chief Inspector, says,
“Construction, planning and the built environment are significantly important to the Welsh economy but because of the recession the construction sector has declined over the past four years. Around 100,000 people in Wales are employed in the construction industry, but very few long-term contracts are available.
“Regardless of the availability of work, construction continues to be a popular choice for training. Many young people aspire to be architects, surveyors, bricklayers, electricians, plumbers and carpenters. Yet, the method of delivering many construction courses and programmes has not changed for many years. Too few FEIs and WBL providers have developed programmes that make full use of learners’ on-the-job experiences or integrate literacy, numeracy and the language and culture of Wales into the education and training they provide.
“Providers also need to match their training to local labour market needs because too many full-time learners achieve qualifications but do not gain or sustain employment in the construction industry.”
Standards of performance in training for construction, planning and the built environment are only average when compared with other learning areas. However, the rates at which learners completed their training and qualifications improved between 2009 and 2011.
Gaining experience of working in the construction industry is essential for learners to complete their qualifications, but this opportunity is not always guaranteed in further education courses. Without work experience, learners do not develop a thorough grasp of the demands of working on a construction site or have the opportunity to progress their practical skills to a higher standard.
Inspectors also found that there is too much variation in the quality of support that providers give learners to develop their literacy and numeracy skills. A minority of teachers, trainers and assessors do not recognise the benefits of supporting learners to improve these skills. Learners do not always receive written feedback on their work. Also spelling, punctuation and grammar errors are not corrected.
Estyn’s report has a number of recommendations to improve the training offered by providers including doing more to develop and sustain effective links with local industry and making sure that the industrial experience and knowledge of teachers, trainers and assessors are regularly updated. The Welsh Government could do more to negotiate with providers to fund programmes that match the labour market needs of Wales.
About the report
Estyn’s report ‘Training for construction, planning and the built environment’ was commissioned by the Welsh Assembly Government and is available in full on link
The evidence for the report included:
Questionnaire responses from FEIs and WBL providers
Visits to 15 FEIs and WBL providers
An analysis of data on learners’ performance & scrutiny of written and practical work