A freedom of information request by Unite to the Government’s Skills Funding Agency revealed that 203,400 people undertook a full-time or part-time construction course in 2016/17 – a five per cent increase on 2015/16.
But the union said the vast majority of these courses are considered to be ‘dead end training’ as they are not linked to an apprenticeship course and are purely classroom based.
In 2016/17 just 21,010 (10 per cent) of these courses were linked to an apprenticeship.
Without a workplace element, trainees are unable to attain an NVQ, which is the only recognised qualification in the construction industry.
Unite wants to see funding which is being pumped into further education colleges, private providers and third sector organisations to provide these courses refocused with the money being used to promote a greater number of genuine apprenticeships.
Unite said on average 35,000 apply every year to the CITB to undertake an apprenticeship in the biblical trades while 19,000 apply to the JTL which undertakes electrical apprenticeships.
On average the CITB is able to find places for 6,000 apprentices a year (17 %) while the figure for the JTL is 2,000 (11%).
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail, said: “These figures show that the current construction training system is broken.
“Young people are too often having their hopes of a construction career crushed as they end up on courses which can’t provide the qualifications they need.
“Thousands of people are applying for apprenticeships but there are not enough places available, yet at the same time construction colleges are piling on ‘dead end courses’ which deny young people the qualifications needed for a career in construction.”
Braden Connolly, Director of Products and Services at CITB, said: “Our research shows that six in ten learners who aren’t successful in applying for construction jobs after finishing college say this is because of a lack of work experience.
“To address this we are working closely with industry and government to design a new construction T level, which will provide every student with a structured, high quality work placement.
“We are also supporting the new Construction Apprenticeships Working Group, which is set to play a pivotal role in ensuring the right training is in place to produce the highly-skilled workforce construction requires.”