Unlocking the Potential to Influence Government Skills Policy: A Case Study of the UK Construction Industry

Arthur Morgan, G Naylor, A Raiden

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Despite a series of national policy initiatives aimed at addressing skills shortages in a number of sectors, little evidence of longer-term change is apparent. This paper examines concerns expressed by small businesses that their local views are not sought or considered when national training policies and initiatives are either being developed or being implemented, and that the investment in skills development does not appear to adequately represent their skills needs.

    The research was carried out on the UK construction industry, which is characterized by a small number of large contractors who employ mainly managerial and professional staff, and a large number of small, micro- and self-employed firms that provide, on a subcontract basis, the majority of the industry's demand for a skilled manual workforce. The identification and delivery of vocational education and training at an industry level rests firmly on addressing the skills needs of the small and micro-type organizations and not those of the large construction firms, although it is the voice of the larger firms that appears to dominate the skills and training development agenda.

    The public policy model that articulates the requirements for training and skills development in the UK is based on sector-specific skills councils. This model is examined in relation to the construction sector by drawing upon the experiences of the South Wales region as a case study. Findings indicate that the current construction skills framework, upon which public policy is formulated and delivered, fails to adequately reflect the structure, skills and training priorities of the industry. The tensions that exist in this system are highlighted and the implications for reform of public policy articulation with regard to sector skills councils are discussed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)238 - 252
    Number of pages14
    JournalInternational Journal of Training and Development
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2008


    • uk construction industry
    • skills shortages
    • training
    • skills development


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