In recent years, the UK government skills policy has emphasised the role of workforce
skills development as a key driver of economic success and improving productivity
across all sectors of the economy. The importance of skills (as a vehicle for enhancing
productivity performance) is highlighted within numerous government reports, such as
Skills White Papers (2003 and 2005), in addition to the Leitch Review of Skills (2006) which coincided with the outset of this research. Thus, the aim of this research was to
examine the relationship between skills development and productivity in the
construction industry in order to assess the assumptions of government skills policy in
the context of the sector.
A multi-method approach was adopted in this research. This involved the analysis of:
official construction statistics, levy/grant and financial accounts data of construction
companies, in addition to a telephone survey. The main findings of the research are
published in five peer reviewed academic papers, demonstrating the tenuous nature of
the relationship between skills development and productivity performance, particularly
when considering the heterogeneous nature of the construction industry. Government
claims about the mono-causal relationship between skills and productivity should be
treated with caution. A simple boost in qualification levels or participation rates of
training is unlikely to lead to productivity improvements in the construction sector.However, skills development and training activities needs to be targeted and focused if
the desired outcome of enhancing productivity performance is to be achieved.
Construction companies needs to be proactive in addressing the skills and training needs
of their business through drawing on the various support available through CITBConstructionSkills
training grants or participating in appropriate skills/training
initiatives, such as apprenticeship schemes. The provision of 'productivity-based'
training grants should be considered by CITB-CS in order to prompt construction
companies to consider training as a plausible means for enhancing their productivity
Finally, the recommendations presented in this thesis and areas for further research sets out
the potential way forward in terms of advancing knowledge in this area.
A dissertation thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the Engineering Doctorate (EngD) degree at Loughborough University.