Over four-fifths of colleges lack staff for construction courses

There is a country-wide shortage of staff to teach higher-level construction courses, new research has found.

A study carried out by the Association of Colleges on behalf of the Financial Times found that 85 per cent of colleges were understaffed for such courses.

The lack of staff was revealed to be worse than for all other types of study, including engineering courses. The subject followed just after, with 78 per cent of colleges reporting that they were struggling to run classes.

Colleges blamed the shortage of teachers on being unable to compete with other institutions that offered better pay, particularly the private sector.

In contrast to the pay scales of schoolteachers, which are set by the government, colleges decide their own staff salaries.

The study, which surveyed 87 colleges – a third of all those in England – also found that 40 per cent of headteachers had been forced to cancel courses across numerous subjects because of a lack of teachers.

Apprenticeship programmes were also seeing the knock-on effect of low staff on courses.

Chief executive of the Association of Colleges David Hughes pointed to funding issues as one of the factors creating a shortage of teaching staff.

He said: “Colleges want to pay their staff more, and they absolutely would if they could. It’s an outrage, and it’s part of the problem with recruitment and retention issues.”

The shortage of teachers, and the threat to construction courses and apprenticeships comes at a time when the industry is grappling with a severe skills gap.

In January, a cross-party committee recommended that the CITB be replaced or reformed as it was not tackling the skills shortage.

Labour vacancies, which reached a record level of 48,000 in 2021, have been deemed by industry leaders to be a bigger problem than material shortages.

Skills shortages were the leading concern for specialist contractors going into 2022 as well.

Leave a comment