A new study has found that formal training leading to a nationally recognised qualification is desperately needed in construction to plug the skills gap.

Manufacturers and distributors of construction products run thousands of training programmes for builders and tradespeople every year, but much of it is informal on-the-job teaching, according to a report from the Construction Products Association (CPA) in conjunction with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

Adrian Belton, chief executive of the CITB, says the research found the industry is being held back by factors including too few skilled staff, outdated qualifications, an ageing workforce, and difficulty in accessing skills funding.

“We have to create more relevant qualifications, a greater number of apprenticeships and better continued professional development of the existing workforce,” he said.

“Together with the CPA, we will take forward the report’s recommendations to link training to qualifications, better signpost available skills funding and increase collaboration with information and guidance to support their members’ skills needs.”

The CITB estimates that 224,000 construction workers will be needed in the next five years to meet expected output growth of more than 20% by 2019.

The Skills Report 2015 maps the large number of training activities that CPA members currently run, and recommends developing a new framework to align thais training to recognised qualifications.   

The CPA’s largest company members put more than 21,000 people through 3,523 courses a year, but in only a small fraction of cases does it lead to a nationally recognised qualification.  

The report looks at how the industry can work better with Sector Skills Councils and bodies that set standards to identify ways of improving competence and qualifications across the supply chain.

Additionally, the industry will need further guidance on other avenues of support available so companies and trade associations can expand and grow, it adds. 

By collaborating, it is hoped construction firms will become more productive and better equipped to meet the demands ahead.

Dr Diana Montgomery, chief executive of the CPA, says: “By establishing a recognised training process, manufacturers would not only have greater confidence that their materials and products are being installed correctly by qualified individuals, but the builders and tradespeople would be better trained, with more flexible and professional credentials; all of which should in turn improve productivity.”