Report investigates qualifications for construction and the built environment

Thursday 08 Feb 2018

Qualifications Wales has published a series of recommendations following a major inquiry into the range and quality of qualifications available in the construction and the built environment industry.

One aspect highlighted in the report – titled Building for the Future – is the possibility of having new qualifications in the Construction and Built Environment (CBE) sector.

“This is one of the country’s priority employment sectors,” said report author, Associate Director Cassy Taylor. “It is estimated that there are 13,000 CBE companies in Wales employing more than 130,000 people and contributing 6.5 per cent of the country’s Gross Value Added (GVA).

“Our team of reviewers spent 15 months interviewing employers, educators and learners in depth for their thoughts about the state of qualifications in the CBE sector before coming to a series of conclusions.

“We are now opening up our detailed report for scrutiny and inviting everyone involved in the sector, from learners to employers, to give us their views on our findings.”

The report’s key proposals include:

  • the commissioning of new qualifications at foundation and progression level, each with trade-specific pathways for learners aged 16-19 on full time programmes of learning in construction and building services in further education; and
  • the need to commission a new apprenticeship qualification for the sector.

“Although we highlight the concerns raised by employers, learners and further education providers, our aim is not to criticise but to shine a light on where matters can be improved for the benefit of everyone in the sector,” said Cassy.

Some of the issues mentioned in the report include:

  • the terminology used in some written assessments produced by awarding bodies can be difficult and quite advanced, and not the same as those used in the world of work;
  • assessment can be excessive and ineffective, with significant repetition;
  • the quality assurance of assessment can be inconsistent;
  • Welsh speakers often don’t complete written tasks in Welsh, even when they are available, because the terminology is not in the ‘local’ Welsh they speak but rather in what they describe as ‘correct’ Welsh which they struggle to understand;
  • apprenticeships can be too short – much shorter than those in other nations;
  • some skills, such as working with mineral insulated cables, has been removed from the qualifications but many miles of the cables are still installed in homes across the country and newly-trained electricians need to know how to repair when faults occur; and
  • not enough is being done in schools to offer advice about the wide range of jobs available in vocational trades, with the emphasis being on academic qualifications and trades seen as the poor relation.

“None of the issues raised during our research are insurmountable,” said Cassy. “Now that they have come to our attention I am confident that, working in partnership with everyone involved in the sector, we can find ways to solve these issues and improve the qualifications available in Wales.

“I would therefore urge everyone with an interest in improving construction-related qualifications to take part in our consultation exercise.”

This is the second sector review undertaken by Qualifications Wales since it started work in 2015. The first on health, social care and play work has resulted in a more focussed approach, reducing the number of qualifications available from more than 240 to a suite of just 19 from September 2019.

The consultation runs from 8 February to 13 April and can be found on the Qualifications Wales website, where you can also download a copy of the full report.

For further details please contact Alan Morris on 01633 373216 or Jenna Llewellyn on 01633 373227