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CPA calls on sector to formalise existing training

6 November 2015

A report from the Construction Products Association is calling on the sector to drive up standards by converting the “informal” training offered by manufacturers and suppliers into transferable credits towards industry-recognised vocational qualifications. 

In its Skills Report 2015, the CPA surveyed its larger members and calculated that they run more than 3,500 training courses a year for at least 21,000 operatives and installers. However, the majority do not result in formal qualifications.

The report gathered evidence on courses linked to 39 different products and materials, but found that only seven were associated with any formal qualifications.

The report maps out how manufacturers’ courses could be assessed by relevant Sector Skills Councils against nationally-recognised qualifications, allowing training providers to fill any gaps in the curriculum. 

If related product companies took up the option, then an individual who completes training programmes with two or more different manufacturers could gain an NVQ or other recognised qualification by mixing and matching courses.

"Our research suggests that the majority of this training is informal and does not lead to a nationally recognised qualification. With the help of the CITB and our members, we believe we can develop a new framework to provide more structured, formal programmes from the existing informal training programmes."

Dr Diana Montgomery, Construction Products Association

Such a system would also help workers achieve higher-grade CSCS cards, for example cards for experienced workers or supervisors.

The report described how an existing system in the roofing sector could be used as a template by other manufacturers and product companies. 

A CPA spokesperson said: “It would improve the installation of products, give tradespeople better credentials, and in the end boost industry productivity.

“Sometimes, the courses miss out on a bit of relevant material, and with a simple addition to the curriculum it might meet the criteria for a qualification.”

The CPA says it will work with its members to help them access funding to put their training courses on a more formal footing, as the survey found that 60% of the courses available were funded by the training companies themselves. 

The report was produced with the support of the CITB, the main Sector Skills Council for the industry, which has committed itself to meeting the goals outlined in the report. But the report says that other SSCs are relevant, such as Semta for engineering and ProSkills for process and manufacturing industries. 

Adrian Belton, chief executive of the CITB, said: “This report finds that a lack of skilled staff, outdated qualifications, an ageing workforce, insufficient high-calibre candidates coming into construction, and difficulty accessing skills funding are all holding the industry back. 

“We have to create more relevant qualifications, a greater number of apprenticeships and better continued professional development of the existing workforce to tackle these issues. 

“Together with the CPA, we will take forward the report’s recommendations to link training to qualifications, signpost available skills funding and increase collaboration with information and guidance to support their members’ skills needs.”

Dr Diana Montgomery, chief executive of the Construction Products Association and chair of the Infrastructure UK Supply Chain Capacity and Skills Group, said: “This report shows, for example, that the CPA’s largest company members train on average 21,108 people through 3,523 courses per year. 

“Our research suggests, however, that the majority of this training is informal and does not lead to a nationally recognised qualification. With the help of the CITB and our members, we believe we can develop a new framework to provide more structured, formal programmes from the existing informal training programmes.

“By establishing a recognised training process, manufacturers would not only have greater confidence that their materials and products are being installed correctly by qualified individuals, but the builders and tradespeople would be better trained, with more flexible and professional credentials; all of which should in turn improve productivity.”

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