A major report into how world class skills training will support the construction industry to boost safety, sustainability, and the mental health of its workforce has been unveiled today.

The findings of the Construction Route Review have been published by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE).

Jennifer Coupland, chief executive of IfATE, said: “I’m pleased to present this report following our wide-ranging review with employers. It sets out how apprenticeships, T Levels, Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs), and further training will keep pace with this vital sector’s fast-evolving skills needs, drive up building safety standards, and play a vital role in changing perceptions and working methods around sustainability and mental health.”

The report recognises how the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire tragedy, which killed 72 people, provoked a widespread review of quality and safety across the construction industry. Action was taken through the 2018 Building a Safer Future report and last year’s Building Safety Bill and BSI Flex 8670 code of practice. A new building safety regulator has also been set up by the Health and Safety Executive.

Yet the Industry Safety Steering Group (ISSG) warned in January that despite excellent progress by some bodies and employers, industry-wide change has been too slow. The route review, led by our route panel of employer experts, has identified how wider adoption of world class training tailored to the sector’s needs should drive forward the further seismic changes needed.

It is a similar story with sustainability. The sector currently accounts for nearly 40% of energy use, over 30% of carbon emissions and almost half of all resource use. The report says that while this is daunting, it means the sector has huge potential to reduce global emissions if future generations receive the right training. It sets out how we will work with the UK Green Building Council to incorporate its education and learning priorities into future apprenticeships and all technical qualifications.

Another important issue highlighted by the report is mental health. According to the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), men working in construction are three times more likely to take their own lives than men on average. They cite reasons for this revolving around construction being a high-risk industry, with numerous physical and structural issues. The route review commits to CIOB recommendations being incorporated into employer-defined occupational standards that will shape all our future training programmes.

The report highlights equality and diversity, digital skills needs, and modern methods of construction as further key principles that will guide the design of apprenticeships, T Levels, and technical qualifications.

It states that priority will be given to developing new occupational standards for the following jobs:

  1. Retrofit Co-ordinator
  2. Mechanical engineer
  3. Geoscientist
  4. Steeplejack
  5. Other retrofit occupations

IfATE can also confirm that our route name for the sector will be expanded to ‘Construction and the Built Environment’. This better reflects the occupational standards contained in the route and the terminology used by the sector as well as further and higher education partners.

Leading employer expert and route panel chair Tanja Smith said: “This route review will ensure occupational standards underpinning all apprenticeships, T Levels and HTQs provide the sector with the right skills for the future. They must widen opportunities for all and embed an ethical and collaborative approach to work and sustainable development, with a strong emphasis on promoting wellbeing, both of themselves and others.”