HC Deb 25 February 2002 vol 380 cc738-9W
Gareth Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the level of skill shortages in(a) the building industry and (b) the road haulage industry [36868]

John Healey

Employers and their representative bodies have the lead responsibility for identifying and tackling skill needs in their sector. The Department does however monitor broad trends and supports National Training Organisations, Industry Training Boards and the new Sector Skills Councils in carrying out this work. A number of recent assessments have been made.

The Employers Skill Survey 2001 covers 27,000 employers, is commissioned by the Department and carried out by independent researchers. This work reported on skills shortages and skills needs across all sectors of the economy, including the two sectors in question. This shows that 7 per cent. of employers in the construction industry, and 6 per cent. in the Other Land Transport' industry reported skill shortage vacancies, compared to 4 per cent. of employers overall.

Each sector is also assessed in a series of Skills Dialogues, reports resulting from collaboration between National Training Organisations, Government, funding agencies and education and training bodies to discuss skill needs and skill gaps in the major industrial, business and service sectors. Two relevant assessments from this series are:

  • An Assessment of Skill Needs in Construction and Related Industries (2001)
  • An Assessment of Skill Needs in Transport (2001).

Copies of all three reports are available in the House of Commons Library.

1 Other Land Transport includes road passenger transport as well as freight transport by road as the data are not disaggregated to the level of road haulage.

Gareth Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what steps she is taking to address the shortage of skilled workers in(a) the building industry and (b) the road haulage industry. [36867]

John Healey

Arrangements for training in these industries are a matter for the employers, as in any other industry. A network of National Training Organisations (NTOs), set up by employers and formally recognised by the Government, provides strategic leadership and practical guidance about the learning, skills and qualification needs for a defined sector. The Construction Industry Training Board is the NTO for the building and civil engineering sector and the Road Haulage and Distribution Training Council covers the road haulage industry.

The Government recently announced plans to build a stronger sector network that will engage employers more fully in the planning and delivery of learning and skills. Sector Skills Councils are being set up which build on the achievements secured by NTOs.

The Government have introduced a clear vocational pathway from key stage 3 through Modern Apprenticeships, Foundation Degrees and Graduate Apprenticeships to provide high-level vocational skills across sectors. In addition, it is the Government's intention that 50 per cent. of Further Education Colleges will become Centres of Vocational Excellence. Our commitment was strengthened through our proposals to provide more high-quality, rigorous vocational qualifications at GCSE level as set out in the consultation document "14-19 extending opportunities, raising standards".

Additionally, DfES is supporting three projects totalling £5 million funded by the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions as part of the £100 million Road Haulage Modernisation Fund. These are a feasibility study into Transferable Loans Scheme, the Expansion of Young Drivers Scheme and the Demonstration Modern Apprenticeship (MA) Based Project in Road Haulage.