The construction route review is the sixth of the Institute’s route reviews and the first to pilot our new approach to revisions.
The aim of our reviews is to provide an opportunity to listen to employers, providers, stakeholders and apprentices to ensure they get the technical qualifications and apprenticeships they need, both now and in the future.
Employers stand at the heart of the work we do, and we have worked closely with them throughout this review. I would like to thank all those who have taken the time to contribute, especially our trailblazer chairs who have worked tirelessly to make sure that the employer voice is at the centre of this report.
Your feedback is vitally important to us, and we want to understand how the reforms that were introduced in 2012 through the Richard Review are working for you.
Our 2021-2024 strategic plan, published in October 2021, builds on the employer-led approach and focuses on three key areas:
So, whilst the construction route review itself may have concluded, we want to continue the dialogue with the sector to meet our goals, including contributing to the Government’s net zero commitments, levelling up and improving diversity and inclusion.
I am pleased to be able to present the construction route review which aims to ensure that all the occupational standards included in the route provide the training needed by the sector for its current and future workforce.
As we share the findings of this review, we hope that the sector can remain resilient, continue to embrace technical education and work with us to find creative solutions to any challenges.
The findings of this review provide the foundations for that, and I look forward to seeing how the sector embraces them and builds upon them to create the future technical education landscape for the sector.
The construction route offers an extensive range of careers with many opportunities to progress and transfer skills. With over 100 standards ranging from level 2 to 7 we are proud to be chair and vice chair for such a fantastic route.
As route panel chairs, we have been able to see the positive impact that the apprenticeship programme has had on the sector and the wider economy, (of which the construction sector is one of the largest) and our work remains challenging as we strive to ensure the technical education products in the route keep up with the ever-changing needs
of the sector. The UK construction sector is a global benchmark of high standards, from climate response to research and development and we
want to make sure the occupational standards in the route are the same.
The construction route has been tremendously busy over the last year with both new and revised apprenticeship standards, T Level approval and early HTQ approval. The route panel, trailblazer employers, other stakeholders and the Institute have worked collaboratively throughout resulting in some significant successes.
These include 7 new occupations added in the last year (including our first ever level 5 occupational standard), 94 standards now on the occupational map, 3 T Levels now in delivery, 3 Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) approved by route panel and the conclusion of the Green Apprenticeships Advisory Panel (GAAP) review, resulting in recommendations to further ‘green’ 65 of our occupational standards.
This route review has provided an opportunity to carry out a strategic review of our work to date and produce the foundations upon which our future work should be based. This will ensure that the occupational standards underpinning all apprenticeships, T Levels and HTQs provide the sector with the right skills for the future.
The construction review is being used to pilot the Institute’s new approach to route reviews – more collaborative, more employer led, more timely with better outcomes for everyone. We have worked closely with employers throughout the review, relying on them to tell us what needs to change on the occupational map and with individual standards. Trailblazer chairs have played an integral part in this and we would like to thank them for their support throughout this review.
The continuing development of apprenticeships and technical qualifications will ensure that there is a more coherent and all-encompassing system to enable skill gaps to be addressed more readily, progression routes to be clearer, diversity to be increased and support for sustainable development goals, including net zero, to be achieved.
The outcomes of the route review will provide us with the opportunity to not only produce technically future-proofed occupational standards, but also to widen access to opportunities and ensure that all apprentices complete with a foundation of our defined principles, including an ethical and collaborative approach to work, a focus on customer service and sustainable development and with a strong emphasis on promoting wellbeing, both of themselves and others.
The route panel is now committed to working closely with trailblazer groups, providers and the wider sector to bring the recommendations from the construction route review to fruition. We hope that you join us in welcoming this report and the opportunity it provides to ensure our sector has the best technical education opportunities possible.
Tanja Smith OBE, Route panel chair and Martin Dix, Route panel vice-chair
This report details the outcomes of the Institute’s construction route review. The route review has been used as a pilot of the Institute’s new approach to route reviews. The review has taken a strategic look at the route in terms of the occupational map and the principles and characteristics which underpin the sector. There was no detailed analysis of the individual occupational standards in the route, instead relying on recently introduced Institute processes such as the Revisions, Adjustments and Dispensations process and the Review Prioritisation process.
We therefore expect that every trailblazer group considers the principles and characteristics detailed in this report in their revision and development work. We also expect those trailblazers affected by the recommended changes to the occupational map work with us to find a mutually agreed outcome for each occupational standard included. Where new occupational standards are recommended, the Institute will work with the sector to identify trailblazer groups to take the developments forward.
There are currently 95 occupational standards approved for delivery in the construction route, with a further 6 in development. The route spans a range of sectors including building, infrastructure and industrial.
In many cases new occupational standards have provided the first nation-wide opportunity for apprenticeships to provide a trained pipeline for occupations that have previously relied on less formal entry routes.
The route provides opportunities for new entrants with limited knowledge of the sector to start their journey at level 2 and 3, right up to experienced professionals who wish to develop skills, and progress in the sector, at levels 4, 5, 6 and 7.
In the route there are (approved or in development):
There are now three construction T Levels in delivery, the first of which, (Design, Surveying and Planning) was introduced in September 2020 and will see the first learners graduating from it this summer. Building Services Engineering and Onsite Construction commenced in September 2021. T Levels provide additional high quality training opportunities at level 3. Designed with businesses and employers, T Levels are two-year, technical qualifications designed to give students the skills that industry needs. They bring classroom learning and an extended industry placement together, providing a mixture of:
T Levels are one of three major options for students to study at level 3, alongside apprenticeships for those who wish to study and train for a specific occupation, and A Levels for students who wish to continue academic education.
In addition, the Higher Technical Qualification (HTQ) approval process for occupations in the construction route started in 2021 with the first teaching from September 2023.
HTQs are level 4 or 5 qualifications that have been quality marked by the Institute to indicate their alignment to employer-led occupational standards. New or existing level 4 or 5 qualifications submitted to the Institute’s approvals process will receive a quality-mark if the qualification satisfies our approvals criteria. HTQs align to existing occupational standards, providing learners with entry-level competence and allowing them to enter their chosen profession or progress onto higher education.
A list of the first batch of approved HTQs in the construction route will be published in June 2022. HTQs are also in scope in the construction route for Cycle 3 and Cycle 4. Information on the occupational standards in scope, and the timelines for future cycles can be found on our website.
The government is also committed to making study options much clearer at level 2 and 3 for students aged 16 and over.
The Institute is currently implementing an approvals process that will set out clear expectations of technical qualifications at level 3. The employer voice is a key part of this and technical qualifications will be expected to align to the Institute’s occupational standards, which set out key training requirements (the knowledge, skills and behaviours) for different occupations.
The route review, and subsequent revision and updating of standards provides an ideal opportunity to ensure that there is coherence across the route. It will ensure that learners, employers and stakeholders have a route that encompasses both apprenticeships and technical qualifications that can be utilised in conjunction with the occupational map.
Route reviews are an opportunity for the Institute, in collaboration with employers, to take a strategic look across each of the 15 technical education routes, ensuring the occupations and their content match the needs of employers now and in the future. They also look at whether technical education programmes are relevant and up to date, ensuring they deliver for both employers and learners.
This is the sixth of the Institute’s route reviews, the first to pilot the new approach. Each one is guided by four key principles:
The review was announced in March 2021 at the construction route summit. The review will help employers to see better value and relevance for their investment in skills and help to drive economic growth and productivity. It will also improve the experiences of current and future apprentices within the route, enhancing their opportunities for career progression.
The review has been conducted by the Institute and has been employer-led and evidence-based at every stage. The recommendations stem from input from employers and stakeholders including sector bodies and training providers. Draft recommendations have been discussed with trailblazer chairs to ensure they are workable and avoid any unintended consequences.
The review’s recommendations have been discussed with and agreed by the construction route panel which is employer-led.
The review has consisted of four main stages:
We have taken care to ensure this review is aligned with other developments in the technical education landscape, particularly the approval HTQs. This provides confidence that recommendations are durable and future focused. It has also allowed us to share insights from this review with other areas of work, so that everyone is aware of the challenges facing employers and the experiences of those delivering apprenticeships on the ground.
The construction sector faces some significant challenges in 2022 and beyond. The Construction Leadership Councils (CLC) 2021 Annual Review and Plan for 2022 details the work of their industry working groups for these challenges and many sector publications report the same challenges. The themes that emerge from leading industry publications are:
In 2017 the Grenfell Tower caught fire, leading to the deaths of 72 people. Quality and safety in construction are inextricably linked. Poor quality can have a devastating effect on the health and safety of those who live and work in the building. The Grenfell tragedy has led to action being taken in this area, with publications such as the Building Safety Bill in 2021, Building a Safer Future report in 2018 and BSI Flex 8670 in 2021. A new building safety regulator has been set up by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The sector now needs to drive forward the implementation of the new legislation and regulations, a significant challenge when it affects every aspect of work, from training and competence to procurement to communication.
The UK has set a target to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Prime Minister set out his Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution and skills will play a big part in this green recovery. The government plans to create and support two million good quality, green jobs by 2030 to support the UK to transition to net-zero.
Construction had a heavy carbon footprint: construction and the built environment generates 40% of the UK’s total carbon emissions. It also has a waste issue, with construction and demolition waste accounting for 25-30% of total waste created in the EU.25-30% of total waste created in the EU. There is also the significant challenge of decarbonising heat.
The work of the green advisory panel (GAP) will ensure that the Insitute is central to plans for the creation of these jobs in the development of future occupational standards. The panel advise where existing apprenticeships map to new green jobs or could be made greener and also where new apprenticeships could be created to address new and emerging skills gaps in the green economy. The panel have also endorsed 15 green and 29 supportive of green apprenticeships as part of the National Green Jobs Taskforce work facilitated by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Education (DfE).
The supply chain crisis created huge upheaval in 2021 and this is continuing in 2022 now with the added challenge of increased fuel and energy costs. Both the physical shortages and their unpredictability have been a struggle, extending programme times and causing materials costs to rocket: according to the recent BCIS Materials Cost Index, the cost of construction materials has reached a 40 year high.
As part of the review, the construction route panel developed a set of key principles and characteristics for the route, which are set out below. These are concepts that the trailblazers are asked to consider for inclusion in all construction occupational standards.
Principles are applicable to all occupations in the route (including any that may be added to the occupational map later). The principles are likely to be relevant to all technical education programmes within the route – including apprenticeships.
Characteristics may be common across multiple standards in terms of KSBs. Trailblazers have been asked to consider the relevance of these characteristics for their standard and include as appropriate.
To support trailblazers in the implementation of the principles and characteristics into the occupational standards, the Institute is developing a set of common KSBs from which the trailblazers can choose. In addition, end-point assessment (EPA) grading descriptors will also be created for each statement.
Building Safety is the one of the CLCs strategic priorities. The Building Safety Bill (2021) will affect every role in the sector, from design through to installation and maintenance.
‘The current approach to levels of competence is disjointed and in places not rigorous enough. This allows individuals to practice with questionable qualifications or without a requirement for competence to be assessed, accredited and reaccredited. ‘…the absence of a coherent overarching framework or body which provides oversight has led to confusion and a lack of trust.’ Dame Judith Hackitt – Building a Safer Future (May 2018)
Following this report in 2018, the Industry Safety Steering Group (ISSG) was formed and has met every 3 months since, reporting annually on progress of the culture of change in the sector. It’s latest report in January 2022 is a concerning read in that despite some excellent progress by some bodies and employers, there is a more widespread slow pace of change, little take-up of training or adoption of best practice and low levels of competence. It calls for immediate significant intervention being needed by key players to demonstrate leadership ahead of legislation.
It is therefore a fundamental principle of the route that must be adopted into the occupational standards and filtered through to all technical education products quickly.
The institute is no different to other stakeholders of competence in the sector in that we have a part to play to meet the requirements of the Building Safety Bill. The definition of competence in our occupational standards must match those defined by the sector as meeting the requirements. The Institute is therefore working with key stakeholders to ensure the competency requirements agreed by the sector are the same as those in the occupational standards. This includes knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) at all levels, given building safety is as much a priority for leaders, designers and engineers as those working in ‘trade’ roles.
Trailblazer groups should ensure that the KSBs pertaining to building safety included in their standard are as up to date as possible at the point of submission and regularly review the standard for currency once approved.
As reported by CIOB in 2019, digital technologies are now an integral part of our built environment. They enable a more efficient industry and bring about benefits including increased productivity and profitability, faster construction, safer projects, better outcomes for clients and of course help to attract the talent of tomorrow.
There are already job vacancies for digital construction managers. There is even digital construction week where subject experts provide insights and technology is showcased. One only has to visit an Institute of Technology to see that the future talent being taught there has access to the best possible technologies and equipment and that they will likely lead the way when they join their employer. So it is only right that digital construction is considered as an integral part of technical education products.
The Institute has published the Digital Skills Framework to help trailblazer groups to develop digital content at all levels of occupational standards. It is expected that in the construction route, this forms the very basic expectation of what should be included and that trailblazer groups should ensure they consult with the digital construction leads in their organisations and the Further Education/Higher Education sector to ensure that future talent is equipped with all the digital construction knowledge and skills they will need.
The building and construction sector currently accounts for nearly 40% of energy use, over 30% of carbon emissions and almost half of all resource use. Whilst this is daunting, it also means the sector has huge potential to reduce global emissions if action is taken. The majority of buildings that will exist in 2050 already exist today. For this reason, we need to ensure that any climate strategies focus on both new as well as existing buildings.
The UK Green Building Council has already identified a need to update education and training in the sector and is helpfully producing content for inclusion in occupational standards which includes:
Like building safety, sustainable practice is the responsibility of every occupation in the sector. From the substructure to the super-structure, all fit out and internal finishes, all mechanical and electrical installations and external works.
The Institute will work with the Green Building Council to adapt their materials into knowledge, skills and behaviours as part of our work on common KSBs. This will supplement the Institute’s initial work in this area, the sustainability framework, as well as the recommendations of our green advisory panel (GAP). The GAP has written to the trailblazer chairs of 58 occupational standards in the route and these recommendations will be incorporated into any revisions.
A focus on retrofitThe Climate Change Act of 2008 sets a legal target for the UK to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% of the 1990 baseline by 2050. The pathway to 2050 is steered by a series of 5-year carbon budgets set with the advice of the independent Committee on Climate Change. All parts of the UK economy must contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including the built environment. The UK government is committed to improving the energy efficiency and carbon footprint of UK buildings in reaching the net carbon zero target by 2050. It is anticipated that this will be delivered through retrofit programmes for social, domestic and commercial buildingsDeep retrofit is an integrated and whole house approach to upgrading the energy efficiency of a dwelling that brings it to the standard required to meet 2050 targets in one step, rather than as a series of single and incremental interventions carried out over a long time.To facilitate that process the UK government has tasked TrustMark to oversee quality standards for retrofit in line with the requirements of PAS2030 and PAS2035. These quality standards describe roles such as retrofit co-ordinators and energy efficiency assessors which are not currently covered by the Occupational Map. The Institute is looking to explore further whether these roles can fit within expanded existing apprenticeships or separate and distinct occupations.
Modern methods of construction (MMC) can not only address some of the most acute problems affecting construction, but also looming energy and economic issues post pandemic. Despite remaining resilient for the best part of 2021, the construction sector is still facing issues such as stalling productivity levels, skills shortages and rising inflation. Therefore, it has never been more important for the sector to adopt innovation that will, to some degree, help companies of all sizes overcome some of the biggest structural problems.
The House of Lords’ Built Environment Committee clearly describes the problems housebuilding faces in the Meeting the UK’s Housing Demand report. The paper states the need for increasing the adoption of MMC to address some of the sector’s most acute problems. The committee see MMC as a means of alleviating the skills shortage and delivering homes with fewer defects thanks to offsite manufacture. By precision-engineering homes along production lines, MMC providers are also able to “design-out” defects and digital design tools allow superior accuracy, with robotics helping to leave no room for error.
MMC also possesses the ability to address one of the UK’s most pressing societal problems. For decades, the housebuilding industry has failed to deliver homes that are both airtight and energy efficient. MMC can improve levels of energy efficiency in buildings. High levels of airtightness and improved building fabrics can translate into huge cost savings for consumers.
The Institute therefore feels it is important that all trailblazer groups consider including content in relation to MMC in their occupational standards. For some it may be at an awareness level only however others will see that it fundamentally affects the skill set needed in the occupation e.g installation of offsite manufactured structural elements and therefore apprentices and learners need to be equipped to face that challenge.
According to the Lighthouse Club Construction Industry Charity, every single working day, two construction workers take their own life in the UK.
The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) published a report in 2020 about mental health in the built environment stating that in Britain, men working in construction are three times more likely to take their own lives than men on average. They cite the reason for this is construction being a high-risk industry, with numerous physical and structural issues, ranging from long and demanding working hours through to tight and often difficult to reach deadlines. The construction industry’s business model has also led to numerous payment issues and uncertainty over future workloads, both of which disproportionately affect small and medium sized businesses. The report contains a number of recommendations which could be adopted in construction occupational standards and beyond.
In general, stress, depression and anxiety accounts for a fifth of all work-related illnesses. The Institute’s own apprentice panel produced a report in 2021 highlighting that mental health of apprentices was also something that employers and training providers should be prioritising. By ensuring apprentices are equipped with helpful knowledge, skills and behaviours to support improvement in mental health, we can hopefully work to reduce those statistics.
The Institute is currently developing an ED&I framework which will provide trailblazer groups with some suggested knowledge, skills and behaviours to be included in their occupational standards. Our product managers will work with those groups to ensure that they are appropriate, both in terms of level and sector context.
The Institute recognises that bringing and supporting the best possible talent into the construction sector is vital in addressing the current and predicted skills shortages. To get the best people, the construction route needs to both widen its talent pool and attract individuals from a broad variety of under-represented and minority backgrounds, as well as supporting the development of inclusive working environments. The protected characteristics for diversity are as follows, however there are other minority groups that should be considered, such as care leavers, veterans and Service leavers, refugees, career changers, ex-offenders and neurodiverse individuals:
To ensure that the route continues to encourage and support equity, diversity and inclusion across the sector, it is important that trailblazer groups describe occupations in a way that is accessible to and inclusive of those from all backgrounds. Trailblazer groups are also asked to consider how they can enable people from a range of backgrounds and regions to take up an apprenticeship or technical education product. For example, by using technology to make content more accessible and promote technical education more widely to increase diversity in the sector.
Inclusive and accessible language will help ensure an occupation appeals to the widest possible audience. On our website we have guidance on both language readability and gender-neutral language to help support employers with this.
Those training and working in all areas of the construction route need to be able to communicate effectively and at an appropriate level.
Communication may be in business-to-business contexts and with direct customers/end users. Engaging with others effectively is important within the route’s occupations.
The concept of customer service should be part of the training of all apprentices and learners. Everyone will work with a customer or client, be them internally to their own organisation or externally.
Trailblazers should consider how soft skills will be included when drafting KSBs.
This is of high importance for occupations within the route. When it comes to collaborative industries, the construction sector is amongst the most interconnected. The number of stakeholders, involved professionals and other interested parties for any one project is sizeable.
From solicitors to contractors, from estate agents through to surveyors – this is an industry that not only relies on such connectivity but thrives on it. Unfortunately, though, the industry doesn’t capitalise on this natural inclination towards collaboration anywhere near as much as it should, and this disjointed reality has only been further compounded by the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Therefore having a collaborative ethic embedded through occupational standards and technical qualifications will support learners in understanding the reasons why collaboration is an essential part of any occupation. From personal and public safety to understanding how their own role and those of others fit within the bigger picture of the full project.
Trailblazers, when drafting their occupational standard, should consider what collaboration looks like in their occupation and the subsequent KSBs needed in the occupational standard.
In the construction industry, ethics come into play at both a professional and organisational level. Professionals such as engineers and surveyors have ethical codes to uphold according to their profession, as do organisations. Ethical behaviour is often measured by the degree of trustworthiness and integrity with which companies conduct business.
Some of the largest construction contractors in the world have faced multi-million fines for significant breaches of ethics and compliance on issues ranging from bribery to modern slavery.
Ethics is a key facet of a company's corporate social responsibility (CSR) which it must endeavour to fulfil. The increasing emphasis on sustainability in construction further requires organisations to apply ethical standards to their activities.
Ethics is also intertwined with sustainability and achieving net zero. Net zero is the outcome of applying sustainable principles in construction. Therefore, ethics should be in the process of sustainability to achieve net zero as an outcome.
Trailblazers, when drafting their occupational standard, should consider what ethical practice looks like in their occupation and the subsequent KSBs needed in the occupational standard.
Apprenticeships, T Levels and HTQs are based on occupational standards. The standards set out the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to be fully competent in any occupation. The occupational standards are the foundation for the Institute’s technical education programmes within route. An apprenticeship would require the appropriate on-programme and end-point assessments to be developed, utilising the relevant occupational standard as its foundation.
The construction occupational map can be found on our website.
The maps group occupations with related KSBs into pathways, making it easier to see the opportunities for career progression within that route. Within each pathway, occupations at the same level are grouped into clusters, to show how skills learnt can be applied to other related occupations.
The occupational map is owned by the Institute’s route panel which is made up of industry experts. Route panels use the maps to support decision making on occupational standards, T Levels and route reviews. The map enables the panel to identify additional occupations that need to be developed or which need to be merged with others or withdrawn.
There are three pathways in the construction occupational map and they are:
Within each pathway, occupations at the same level are further categorised into clusters, to show how learnt skills can be applied to other related occupations.
As part of the online public consultation that formed part of the construction route review, respondents were asked a series of questions about the occupational map.
39% of respondents said that no further occupations were needed on the occupational map.
61% of respondents said that occupations were missing.
55% of respondents identified occupations they felt should be added to the map. Some occupations were suggested by multiple respondents. Similar suggestions were considered together.
25% of respondents thought some occupations were misplaced on the map and should be moved or changed.
27 occupations were suggested as needing to be prioritised for development into apprenticeships:
How we have considered each one of these is detailed in the methodology below.
We analysed all of the responses relating to the occupational map and reviewed them against both the current maps and the apprenticeship standards on the Institute’s website. We also discussed the suggestions with the construction route panel, trailblazer chairs and a number of stakeholder forums.
Where respondents suggested new occupations for the map, we undertook research to establish whether the suggestion is a recognised and standalone occupation. This involved checking against the Institute’s occupational criteria, SOC codes (the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) is a common classification of occupational information) the National Careers Service website, and vacancies advertised on indeed.co.uk and specialist job sites. We also looked at whether the duties, knowledge and skills required for the occupation are covered by existing occupational standards.
In some cases, the suggestions already existed in current standards, some of which sit in the construction route, some in other routes. As part of the review of such standards, we expect a review of the occupation title.
Summary of recommendations to be taken forward:
In the design, surveying and planning pathway:
In the onsite construction pathway:
The following occupations have been suggested for prioritisation for development into occupational standards:
We are also working with a number of trailblazer chairs who are together carrying out a wholescale review of occupational standards in the route at level 4 and level 6. The objective is to understand if some can be restructured or merged to provide a richer experience for the apprentice. This affects standards in both the design, surveying and planning pathway and the building services pathway.
Feedback was also received that the Institute should consider re-naming the route to ‘construction and the built environment’. We are currently investigating this with the Department for Education and will provide further information at a later date.
The trailblazer groups will work with their product manager to implement the recommendations from the review, and where appropriate, the recommendations from the GAAP. We have been working closely with trailblazer chairs throughout the review and many have already commenced this work, with others planned over the next 18 months.
The Institute will provide support to trailblazers throughout the updating of their occupational standards and encourages honest and open dialogue.
Updated documents will go through our usual submission process. This will include updating the assessment plan in line with the changes made and, if necessary, the funding band.
We will also provide a suite of common KSBs to support the revision work.
T Levels are two-year technical study programmes, equivalent to 3 A Levels and delivered in schools and colleges. The content of the qualifications is developed from the knowledge, skills and behaviour statements from the occupational standards on which apprenticeships are based. T levels consist of core content (which makes up 20-50% of the qualification) and occupational specialism content, that the learner selects (which makes up to 50-80% of the qualification). T Levels provide sufficient training in one or more occupations to enable a learner to enter skilled employment.
The T Level programme includes:
T Levels will become one of three major options for students to study at level 3. T Levels are 80% provider based, and 20% industry based.
The aim is that both apprenticeships and T Levels will be able to provide an individual with viable routes into an occupation, recognising that individuals benefit from different types of learning.
The availability of the distinct options for prospective learners to gain the relevant knowledge, skills and behaviours will mean that employers have a wider pipeline of prospective employees. This will reduce the overall training cost for employers.
More information on T Levels can be found on our website and on tlevels.gov.uk. Our website details the current content for the:
In this route, there are three T Levels, the first of which became available in September 2020, the remaining two in September 2021. The T Levels and specialisms are as follows:
The Institute continues to develop progression profiles for each of the construction T Levels. We develop progression profiles with employers, providers and other industry experts. We map content that is common to T Levels and apprenticeships to show the skilled occupations that T Levels can lead to.
The Institute recognises there is more work to do in this area, especially for the onsite construction T Level and we will share updates on this work during 2022.
Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) are level 4 or 5 qualifications that have been quality marked by the Institute to indicate their alignment to employer-led occupational standards. New or existing level 4 or 5 qualifications submitted to the Institute’s approvals process will receive a quality-mark if the qualification satisfies our approvals criteria. HTQs align to existing occupational standards, providing learners with entry-level competence and allowing them to enter their chosen profession or progress onto higher education.
There is a growing demand for skills at levels 4 and 5 from employers and students. The number of learners taking qualifications at level 4 and 5 is low compared to other countries and other levels of education.
For HTQs, we have put in place an employer-led approvals process, building on our experience and expertise of approving apprenticeships and T Levels. We will compare the qualifications submitted to employer-designed occupational standards which set out the knowledge, skills and behaviours an individual should achieve to be deemed competent in an occupation. Where a qualification is aligned to the standard, meets any relevant regulatory requirements, and provides the knowledge, skills and behaviours for entry into the occupation it will be approved by the Institute to use the quality mark.
The approval of HTQs has been organised on a route-by-route basis. The approval process for occupations in the construction route started in Cycle 2 with first teach from September 2023. A list of the first batch of approved HTQs in the construction route will be published in June 2022. HTQs are also in scope in the construction route for Cycle 3 and Cycle 4. Information on the occupational standards in scope, and the timelines for future cycles can be found on our website.
The reforms set out in the Department for Education’s Review of Level 3 Post 16 Qualifications in England are due to be implemented in 2022. From later this year, the Institute will lead on the approval of technical qualifications, with the first cycle of approvals comprising qualifications in the following routes:
Approval will ensure that qualifications align to employer-led occupational standards. We will only accept qualifications from Ofqual-recognised organisations, and as part of the approvals process, Ofqual will be providing feedback where appropriate. The ESFA will in future only consider funding technical qualifications that have been approved by the Institute. The first approved qualifications will be confirmed in summer 2024 for teaching from September 2025.
The government’s successful Skills Bootcamp training programmes are now up and running, including a number in the construction sector. Skills Bootcamps are developed in partnership with employers, colleges, training providers and local authorities, to help people develop the skills that are in demand in their local area and get a better job.
A list of Skills Bootcamps is available. This list will grow as more Skills Bootcamps become available.
During 2022, Ofsted inspectors will visit a sample of Skills Bootcamps providers to carry out a review of provision, applying the education inspection framework methodology to identify strengths and areas for improvement.
The role of Ofsted will continue alongside any expansion of the Skills Bootcamps programme in future years
The construction bootcamps include an introduction to construction and the built environment, retrofit and supervision.
We recognise that, as a result of the route review, trailblazers will be undertaking large volumes of work to strengthen and future proof standards within the route and the Institute will endeavour to support trailblazers throughout this process. As part of the strategic plan the institute is committed to promoting a continuous improvement philosophy and new approaches to ensure all our customers have good experiences with the Institute. We have listened to employer feedback on our previous route review process and have used the construction route review as a pilot for a new approach. We would welcome any feedback on this new approach as to how we can improve it further.
To support in the development and delivery of review recommendations, the Institute has committed to supporting trailblazers by taking the following actions:
Maximising the transferability of apprenticeship standards by ensuring trailblazer groups represent all types of employers.
The diverse range of employers within the construction route means that it can be challenging to develop occupational standards that meet all their needs. The Institute will support trailblazer groups to ensure they represent all types of employers, in accordance with the current policy on trailblazer group formation. This includes small and micro businesses in addition to larger employers.
Supporting the delivery of apprenticeship training and end-point assessment by ensuring training and assessment providers are included in trailblazer group membership.
The diverse nature of many of the occupations in the route can make it difficult for employers to attract training providers and independent assessors with the required level of skill and experience. It can also make it hard for the training and assessment to be commercially viable, given the relatively low numbers on some standards. The Institute will ensure that all standards within the route follow the current policy on trailblazer formation, which requires trailblazer groups to include training and assessment providers.
Working with employers to ensure construction technical qualifications are performing.
The Institute is committed to working with employers to promote the range of available technical qualifications and apprenticeships within the route. We have 101 occupational standards, 3 T Levels and soon will have a number of HTQs in the route. We want them all to be successful and provide exciting careers for all of our apprentices and learners as well as a steady stream of future talent for employers.
We will work closely with our trailblazer groups both during development and in the delivery phase to review performance, monitor take up and then work with them to take the necessary actions to ensure maximum take up of the apprenticeship and/or technical qualification.
Working with employers to promote construction apprenticeships and technical qualifications to a diverse audience.
Apprenticeships and technical qualifications provide an opportunity to broaden participation in construction occupations, helping to make the industry more representative. This is particularly true for under-represented groups such as ethnic minorities, women and people with disabilities who have traditionally found it more difficult to access construction careers.
Working with employers to meet the 2050 net-zero carbon emissions target.
Employers in the route are increasingly considering how to reduce the environmental impact of their sectors, e.g. carbon offsetting, reduced waste, choice of materials. Addressing climate change and safeguarding environmental sustainability are also key priorities in the CLC strategic plan.
The UK has a target to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, building a greener country in which skills will play a key part. The government is now planning to create and support 2 million high quality, green jobs by 2030 to support the UK to transition to net-zero. The Institute set up a new green advisory panel to ensure that apprenticeships and technical education are front and centre of this ambition. 65 occupational standards in the route have been identified by the panel as needing to be ‘greener’ and we will work with those trailblazer groups affected to help bring that to fruition.
The approvals process for all technical education will ensure the needs of employers within the growing green economy are met. This includes the creation of new standards to reflect new occupations that may, for example, contribute to meeting the challenge to reach net carbon zero or considering how the content of an occupational standard may take account of the green economy where it is not the primary focus of an occupation.
The Institute’s new sustainability framework is designed to support the inclusion of proportional sustainable development considerations in new and revised occupational standards at all levels. Trailblazer groups can refer to the sustainability framework when developing an occupational standard to help include sustainable development considerations into knowledge, skills and behaviours that are relevant for each occupation.
Working with trailblazers to ensure occupational standards are accessible to a diverse audience
The Institute is committed to supporting greater equality of opportunity across apprenticeships and wider technical education. In the digital route review, the route panel identified that adapting the language used in the occupational standards to make it more gender neutral could encourage more females to take up digital apprenticeships.
In autumn 2021, we launched a diversity and inclusion project to review all our products and work to make sure they are as accessible as they can be. The project will develop actions and recommendations to improve diversity and inclusion in technical education.
We want apprenticeships and technical education to drive greater equality of opportunity for all.
The project will consider accessibility and diversity in relation to gender, ethnicity, disability, age and areas across apprenticeships, the levelling up agenda, T Levels and HTQs.
Its work will include:
Developing working plans with partner organisations, such as the social mobility commission and the in-work progress commission to further improve opportunities for all.
Supporting trailblazer groups in the development and revision of occupational standards
We recognise that employers in the sector are extremely busy. With over 1.6 million construction SMEs in United Kingdom, this exacerbates the challenge of trying to work with employers to help us develop and revise occupational standards as they simply do not have the time to commit. The Institute restructured in 2021 and we now have a dedicated team who can provide trailblazers with as much or as little support they need to develop the documents and manage the submissions. As a result of the route review, we are also developing a suite of common KSBs based on the principles and characteristics from which trailblazer groups can choose the ones appropriate to them. Corresponding grading descriptors will also be provided. These measures will hopefully speed up the development process and reduce the time commitment for employers.
Apprenticeships provide an opportunity for wider participation in construction careers and enable occupations to be representative of the populations they serve.
They enable nation-wide opportunity to provide a trained pipeline for occupations that have previously often relied on less formal routes to entry or offered limited progression opportunities.
Below are some examples of apprentices, who are positively benefiting from high-quality training and employment opportunities and developing skills that are vital in securing future success in the sector.
Knowing that she prefers being onsite and working and meeting new people, Shannon chose to do an apprenticeship.
“I think you learn more with hands-on experience and meet a lot of different people in your trade. This means you work with people who have a lot and different experiences and ways of doing things.”
Shannon wanted to become a bricklayer when she visited a college and spoke to one of the tutors. She found it very interesting the way bricks joined together, and how to get each brick level, straight and vertical.
Bricklaying is a core function within the construction sector, particularly the house building sector. The Government has a target to build significantly more new homes over the coming years and therefore the demand for bricklayers has never been higher.
Being a woman in a male-dominated industry, Shannon takes it upon herself to break the stigma. She goes out of her way to talk to new people and shows them she’s just as good as the men on-site. She also has become very aware of men’s mental health due to being a female on-site,
“Bricklaying is male-dominated, and men can find it difficult to talk to others about their feelings. I feel being a female on-site when I talk to people, they open up more to me and talk about their problems. We need to champion men’s mental health more”
Shannon believes that everyone needs to consider doing an apprenticeship.
“I personally say go for it, have a laugh, and make the work fun. Also keep at it. Some days will be harder than others, but you will get there!”
Shannon is currently doing a level 2 bricklaying apprenticeship.
Colm’s apprenticeship was a brilliant opportunity for him to earn and learn simultaneously.
“The apprenticeship has been great so far; I’ve worked in a variety of different placements to get a rounded skill base. I have a lot of support from colleagues, managers, as well through the college network. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn everything I have in Transport for London without the apprenticeship, such as national policy and international projects.”
Colm enjoys developing his skills and getting new experiences wherever he can. On a day-to-day basis he carries out data analysis including on future cycle demand, and he thrives off of all this first-hand experience he’s receiving.
“I have built a great number of skills and have plenty of experience that would support working in construction. I am lucky as I have contributed to contemporary projects that are specific to transport planning. Such as the Bank blockade closure which is a 17 week London Underground closure on the Northern Line between Kennington and Moorgate. I was involved with the preparation for the change in passenger route choice, e.g. passengers now traveling through Waterloo station or by bus. The project also provided the opportunity to network with other construction professionals.”
Colm has found that construction can be a stressful environment, but he has been supported through the apprenticeship, with opportunities to voice his concerns to managers, college lecturers, and colleagues. Transport for London provides great support for mental health through ambassador support and social platforms.
Below is his tip for anyone thinking of doing an apprenticeship.
“I would recommend doing an apprenticeship to anyone and everyone! Don’t worry about lacking in skills or experience; being enthusiastic about the role with a willingness to learn are the most important attributes to have, so give it a go.”
Colm is currently doing a level 3 transport planner technician apprenticeship.
Basant chose an apprenticeship because she wanted hands-on experience and to engage with experienced engineers who she could learn a lot from.
“My apprenticeship experience has been insightful, and I have already gained more experience in the construction industry compared to some of my peers. I have received full support from my managers and colleagues, who continuously push me to achieve my best.”
Basant has worked on a range of projects, and she has gained and developed a collection of skills to help her achieve her goals within the workplace and within her studies. Basant works with the senior engineers to design efficient mechanical systems for a building by carrying out heating and cooling calculations to determine system loads, which meet the building’s needs. She also works with 2D and 3D software such as AutoCAD and Revit to determine design solutions and draw up system layouts. On top of this, Basant carries out on-site surveys to allow them to gain further understanding of the existing systems, and spatial capacity of the building for mechanical plant equipment.
She believes it’s important to have a balance between work and studies.
“An apprenticeship can become overwhelming, particularly within the construction industry which requires precision and has many tight deadlines. So, I am a big supporter for encouraging conversations about mental health in this industry”.
Basant also sees how important it is for women to be in the construction industry, so that everyone can share their new and innovative ideas.
Her tip for anyone thinking to do an apprenticeship would be:
“Do your research and gain insight into not only the qualification you would like to complete and ensure the company you work for provides support. Also, always ask for help and continuously ask questions!”
Basant is currently doing a level 6 building services design engineering apprenticeship.