The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has come under fire for plans that could “dilute” the skills of bricklayers.
Paul Mitchell, registrar for the Scottish Building Apprenticeship and Training Council, told MSPs that there had been a “significant level of frustration over the last eight or nine months” in dealings with the SQA.
Giving evidence to last week’s Education and Skills Committee session exploring the safety of school buildings, he said that “craft apprenticeships” – including bricklaying and other trades – required a Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQ) Level 3. But the SQA had moved to make an SVQ Level 2 the standard qualification without consulting the industry, which employers and trade unions had said would mean a “dilution of the skill base”.
Mr Mitchell, the Scottish Building Federation’s head of employment affairs, said Level 2 concentrated on one or two aspects of each craft – in contrast to the more “broad-based” Level 3.
An SQA spokesman said: “SQA is responsible for developing qualifications and assessments that meet the needs and requirements of sector skills councils (SSC) across the country, in this instance the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). Like every other SSC, the CITB is responsible for determining its own National Occupation Standards, its assessment strategy and the structure of the SVQs within the sector, which awarding bodies such as SQA would make a submission to award.”
Concerns were raised that trades such as bricklaying were suffering from a skills crisis, partly as a result of a struggling economy and a reduction in foreign workers since last June’s Brexit vote.