Skills for students

The government must be realistic about the capabilities and work-readiness of students who have completed construction T-Levels, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The idea that a student who has completed a T-Level in bricklaying is able to call themselves a qualified bricklayer is not credible. The government must be realistic about how much can be achieved in two years of largely college-based learning.

“Although T-Levels include a three-month work placement, when the rest of the individual’s knowledge and skills are acquired in the classroom, in construction they will need more time onsite, post-T-Level, before they can and should describe themselves as being qualified in that trade. Small and medium-sized construction firms, which do the bulk of training in our industry, would rather view T-Levels as a rich pool of talent through which to find apprentices.” 

The government intends to make work placements as flexible as possible, and the FMB said that being open to the three-month placement being achieved through more than one employer is vital.

However, to ensure work placements are as attractive as possible, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) should consider offering financial incentives to employers through CITB Grant, the federation said.

“We know, for example, that a typical construction SME is likely to shell out an additional £500 for their employers’ liability insurance because of having a young person onsite for three months,” Brian said.

“This is on top of the resource needed to closely supervise that young person. If employers can be financially incentivised somehow, it would be helpful. If implemented properly, T-Levels have the potential to provide parity of esteem between vocational and academic education.”