The interorganisational influences on construction skills development in the UK


The UK construction skills shortage problem is well documented. To alleviate this, there is a political shift of emphasis in the UK towards employers and employees/ learners playing a more proactive role in skills development. This research seeks to examine the mechanisms that can enable such a demand-led skills development system to materialise. A desktop review and key-stakeholder analysis were undertaken to identify who participates in skills development in the construction industry in the North East of England. Exploratory interviews adopting an interpretive approach were undertaken with a sample of the key stakeholders to examine the pluralistic nature of skills development provision and the implications for the learner negotiating this environment when trying to develop skills. The interim findings suggest that whereas organisations consider skills development to be important, specific training for “upskilling” can be difficult to recognise and even more difficult to gain funding for. The complexity and fragmentation of the existing framework consequently subjects vocational skills development to the initiative and goodwill of employers, thereby reinforcing the voluntarist nature of skills development that is typical in the UK. The findings also suggest that skills development practices, at times, occur informally at the workplace and enabled through a network of local organisations. These findings highlight a need for further investigation into the efficacy of the inter-organisational dynamics and informal practices that could potentially make a demand-led skills development system a reality

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