T-level panel not reflective of industry, says NFB

Construction sector firms unprepared for Brexit

When it comes to preparing for Brexit, construction firms are trailing behind businesses from other sectors, according the latest YouGov survey commissioned by RSM. RSM’s Brexit Monitor survey of middle market businesses found that firms in the construction sector had only taken 28 per cent of the actions needed to prepare for Brexit, compared to 37 per cent for firms in the financial services, consumer and technology sectors, and 34 per cent for firms in the manufacturing sector. When asked about what actions were necessary, respondents from the construction sector had prioritised establishing EU subsidiaries or branches (32 per cent), lobbying Government (31 per cent) and preparing for potential import/

export duties with the EU (20 per cent). Despite these findings, construction

businesses were the most bullish when it came to confidence in the Government’s ability to get a good Brexit deal. Of those surveyed, Sixty per cent of construction firms said they were confident in a good outcome, significantly higher than the average of 45 per cent across all sectors. The national survey of more than 300 UK leaders of mid-market companies also revealed that 60 per cent of respondents said that access to the single market, either through a new trade deal or continued membership, should be a negotiation priority for the UK government. Securing the rights of EU citizens in the UK was the second most important consideration at 27 per cent.

Construction is among the first three subjects available for new technical T-level qualifications, the Department for Education has announced, however the makeup of the industry panel formed to develop T-levels’ content has been criticised as unrepresentative by the National Federation of Builders. The industry panel for the new qualifications, which will be available from 2020, includes major contractors Morgan Sindall and Skanska, and the initiative has been welcomed as a “positive step in the right direction” by the NFB. However it added that while Morgan Sindall and Skanska’s approach to the task may be “laudable,” the panel is “not exactly SME-friendly” and that more could 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 per cent of the industry.” According to the body, construction SMEs train and retain two-thirds of all industry workers, as well as making a significant contribution to their local communities. Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Education, commented on the release: “As we prepare to leave the EU, it is more important than ever that we create an outstanding further education and skills system, giving all young people the opportunity to fulfil their potential and deliver a better future for our country.”


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