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CEP Discussion Paper
Recent Trends in Engineering and Construction Skill Formation - UK and Germany Compared
Hilary Steedman
July 1997
Paper No' CEPDP0353:
Full Paper (pdf)

Accurate accounting for annual flows of vocational qualifications by sector of economic activity has been greatly impeded by the data collection methods put in place since the setting up of the National Council for Vocational Qualifications (NCVQ) in 1986. Using unpublished data from a variety of sources, the paper concludes that, allowing for differences in the size engineering and construction sectors in the two countries, Britain continues to lag well behind Germany in the production of intermediate level engineering skills and in craft qualifications in the building trades. Assessments of the relative quality of the NVQ Level 2 in Construction and the German construction apprenticeship show the standard of practical competence acquired to be similar in both countries. The standard of the German tests of technical knowledge and of mathematics was judged to be well above the building trade craft level in Britain. Unlike their German counterparts, British construction and engineering trainees awarded NVQ 2 and NVQ 3 qualifications are no longer obliged to pass externally set and marked tests in occupationally-related technical skill and knowledge mathematics. It appears that Britain is still some way from closing the skills gap with Germany in engineering and in the building trades despite sacrificing rigour in assessment and the breadth and technical knowledge base of traditional skills training programmes and concentrating instead on work-related practical competences.