Here, we round up some of the reactions to yesterday’s Budget from Phillip Hammond.
“With research suggesting that more than half (52 per cent) of young people have never given a career in construction any consideration, we certainly welcome the Government’s commitment to plans for a radical overhaul of post-16 education, involving the creation of 15 new technical education pathways,” comments David Hall, National Technical Academy Manager at British Gypsum.
Philip Hammond announced the introduction of T-Level qualifications to rival the traditional academic system and further enhance technical education. In addition, the chancellor pledged a 50 per cent increase in the number of programme hours for 16-19 year olds by 2019/20 and announced £40 million of funding for the Lifelong Learning pilots to retrain existing workers.
The National Federation of Builders (NFB) believes that introducing T-Levels and funds for developing existing workers are positive steps addressing the challenge posed by the construction skills crisis.
Rico Wojtulewicz, policy advisor for the House Builders Association (HBA), said: “It is imperative that we deliver high-quality training, but not if employment opportunities are for a transient workforce or one that is concentrated mostly in large cities.”
Yesterday’s Budget includes a few specific measures that will be welcomed by the construction industry, including funding for a further 110 free schools and the allocation of £103 million to tackle pinch-points in the national road network in the midlands and the north of England.
However, the stronger growth forecast for the UK economy to 2 per cent in 2017 is likely to have a greater positive impact upon the industry’s fortunes over the coming year.
Eddie Tuttle, Associate Director for Policy, Research and Public Affairs at the CIOB said: “The Chancellor stated that productivity was “at the very heart” of the government’s economic plan. We are keen to work with the Government to ensure construction’s contribution to improving productivity in the wider economy is better recognised.
“Regional investment that adds value throughout the country is welcomed, not least to close the investment and productivity gap between London and the rest of the UK. But for this to work, investment must be tied to training and job creation. CIOB, alongside other industry bodies, will be producing a report later this year on the value of regional investment in the UK, which aims to improve the construction-related investment decisions made by policy makers.”
Responding to the Chancellor’s Spring Budget Statement, Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, said: “The Chancellor clearly understands that the UK won’t address the productivity challenge unless we rethink our approach to technical and vocational education.
“T-Levels could be the answer if they genuinely rival A-Levels in the eyes of parents, teachers and young people. UK society as a whole has been guilty of putting too much emphasis on the academic route – this has made it more difficult for vital sectors like construction and house building to attract the talented people we need.
“In construction, we are suffering from a severe skills shortage and this is likely to worsen once we leave the EU and no longer have easy access to European labour. This £500 million funding announced today for T-Levels is therefore a welcome and much-needed boost.”
“It was slightly disappointing, if not overly surprising, not to hear more from the Chancellor on housing in his Budget statement.
“With details of the Housing White Paper only announced last month, we will be looking closely at the implementation of those initiatives in coming months – in particular on brownfield development and supporting new housebuilding methodologies.”
Rosi Prescott, CEO Central YMCA:
“As an organisation that has helped steer many thousands of young people through an apprenticeship, the announcement by the Chancellor today to truly establish a parity of esteem between academic and technical education is warmly welcomed by Central YMCA.
“It’s no secret apprenticeships can and do act a vehicle of social mobility for students from disadvantaged backgrounds so the announcement to allow technical students access to maintenance loans is also greatly welcomed.
“It’s high time this parity of esteem was achieved and we look forward to seeing the Government plans take shape, in the face of a reforming apprenticeship programme, in the coming months and years.”