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MPs give support to game-changing construction qualification

The Level 3 Applied Diploma looks to diversify tomorrow's workforce, and is aimed at high-achieving students more associated with core STEM subjects

Posted by Julian Owen | September 14, 2018 | People, policy, politics, money

ISG and its partner, WJEC, have taken a major step in tackling the looming skills and recruitment crisis facing the construction industry, with a launch at the House of Commons of the UK’s first Level 3 Applied Diploma in Professional Construction Practice (PCP). 

The academic course is aimed at high-achieving students who would normally focus on core STEM subjects, and has the dual purpose of 'transforming outdated perceptions of the industry and better preparing young people for progression into Level 4 built environment qualifications and beyond'. 

The PCP qualification is worth up to 56 UCAS points (the equivalent of an A-Level), and provides a 'contemporary insight into modern construction management practices, encompassing the technologies, behaviours and innovation that support the delivery of world-class and iconic buildings'. 

Teaching modules include an introduction to Building Information Modelling (BIM), the use of drones, laser scanning technology, and AI and VR in the built environment. The aim is to provide young people with a realistic insight into a world beyond the construction site itself, revealing the wide-ranging roles and functions positively transforming our environment. The technological focus of the course is a deliberate response to broaden the appeal of construction to engage both female and ethnically diverse audiences, who respectively make up just 14 percent and six percent of the current workforce.

Following the long-awaited publication of the government’s Construction Sector Deal in July, the importance of people was recognised as a central theme of how the industry should transform itself for the future. The report acknowledged the stark recruitment and skills gap the industry is facing, with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) estimating that the sector needs to recruit and train 158,000 workers between 2018 and 2022 - or 31,600 annually – simply to keep up with current levels of demand, which are rising year-on-year. 

The industry has been grappling with these issues for decades, and the report noted that most initiatives have ‘largely been run in isolation’, without a ‘coordinated approach to promoting construction careers’. In 2017, ISG developed the UK’s first Level 3 diploma in PCP, which has now been formally launched with the support of leading MPs and a range of schools, colleges, further and higher education institutions.

The construction industry employs nearly one in ten working people in the UK and has an annual turnover of £370 billion; this launch signifies the its response to the fact that it isn’t doing enough to help itself bridge the recruitment and skills gap holding it back.

Paul Cossell, ISG’s CEO, said: “The skills and expertise of the UK’s built environment professionals have never been in higher demand around the world. The problem we have as an industry is that a third of our workforce is now over 50 years old, and we are not doing enough to educate and expose young people to the amazing opportunities that exist in this vitally important industry, delivering the infrastructure, hospitals, schools and homes that support our very existence.

“The PCP qualification is our response to engaging the brightest and most talented young people at an earlier age, with a Level 3 qualification that can sit alongside and complement existing STEM subjects. Students are given the confidence to explore contemporary construction practice and earn transferable UCAS points, an essential element unlocking the barriers that some may feel towards specialisation at an early age. This is the real game-changer – a qualification that accurately reflects our industry, but doesn’t negatively penalise those who are interested but ultimately find that it is not for them in the long term.”

"The aim is to provide young people with a realistic insight into a world beyond the construction site itself, revealing the wide-ranging roles and functions positively transforming our environment."

Neath Port Talbot College (NPTC) Group of Colleges is the PCP diploma’s first partner and sponsor, and over the course of the 2018 academic year will be working closely with ISG in preparation to deliver the qualification to its first cohort of students in September 2019.

Allan Perry, subjects office, WJEC added: “The government’s Construction Sector Deal calls for greater gender and ethnic diversity in the industry if we are to deliver on the £600 billion infrastructure pipeline alone. We firmly believe that we can only achieve these targets by re-setting the perception of what construction actually is. The PCP qualification is one of our best chances to engage those talented young people who haven’t made the natural link between STEM subjects and the built environment.” 

For further information about ISG, please visit

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