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Skanska and Morgan Sindall to aid T-levels launch

12 October 2017

Contractors Morgan Sindall and Skanska have signed up to help the government in developing the new T-level courses in construction in schools.

The new courses, which will begin in 2020, were announced yesterday by education secretary Justine Greening with the first three T-levels being in construction, digital technology, and education & childcare.

More T-level qualifications will follow, in subjects such as manufacturing, engineering, legal, finance and accounting.

“As part of making sure that the technical education ladder reaches every bit as high as the academic one, I want to see T-levels that are as rigorous and respected as A-levels,” she Greening.

The Department for Education has set up industry panels for each T-level course.

Julian Weightman, chairman and owner of Border Craft Group, is chair of the construction panel – an appointment welcomed by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

“Construction SMEs train two-thirds of all apprentices and make up 98% of the construction industry so it’s vital that the new T-levels work for small builders,” said FMB chief executive Brian Berry.

“Julian is committed to increasing the quality of vocational education and over the past two years, he successfully chaired the bricklayer and plasterer apprenticeship trailblazer group. “Julian will be able to bring this recent experience to the table when leading on the development of the construction T-level, which arguably, will be even more challenging.”

Berry warned, however, that there may be issues in the future with work experience requirements: “One of the biggest potential stumbling blocks for the T-level initiative will be the required amount of work experience for each young person. T-levels will rely on all students being able to complete three months’ work experience with an employer in their second year.

“Given that CITB statistics show the number of young people in construction-related further education far outweighs the number of apprenticeship places being offered by employers we need to find a solution to this problem.

“We owe it to young people to ensure we can deliver on what we promise so this needs to be properly thought through. It’s also important that construction T-levels dovetail with the new construction apprenticeships developed via the trailblazer process.

“A merger of the Department for Education’s technical panel with the Institute for Apprenticeships’ construction panel would assist this process.” 

For their part, the National Federation of Builders (NFB) said that although the announcemnt is positive, more should be done to include small and medium-sized firms in the process.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said: “The make-up of the panel developing the content of construction T-levels should be more representative, with SMEs playing a more predominant role since they account for 98% of the industry.”

Other construction-related T-level panels will be chaired by Dayle Bayliss of Dayle Bayliss Associates and David Matthews of the Institute of Domestic Heating & Environmental Engineering.

Image: Auremar/Dreamstime

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