The government should divert more than half a billion pounds from universities to help fund professional technical education, a new study backed by the CITB and Wates has suggested.
The report by think tank Policy Exchange and funded by Wates and the CITB said further education needed to be valued on a par with university education and called for £532m of government funding to be redirected to training.
It proposed introducing maintenance support and new loans for students in further education.
The report also put forward degree apprenticeships as part of a change in the way technical education was delivered.
According to the CITB, over the next five years the construction industry will require a total of 224,000 people to enter the industry in order to deliver the UK’s pipeline of work.
A large proportion of this requirement will involve high-skilled jobs such as civil engineering and construction management.
At present, just 10 per cent of 25-40 year-olds in the UK have a post-secondary vocational qualification, compared with 22 per cent in the US.
This has led to calls for an overhaul in the way technical training is delivered in this country to boost the number of entrants into the workforce.
The report suggested the government’s spending review on the 25 November would be a good opportunity to “ensure the balance was right”.
The spending review will put the CITB’s levy system under the spotlight following the announcement that a new apprenticeship levy system could be introduced to help achieve the government’s goal of three million new apprentices by 2020.
Last month, the CITB revealed its proposal for a new “hybrid levy system” in which construction companies would continue to pay the levy, at a lower rate, alongside the new government levy.
CITB director of policy Steve Radley said: “This report offers a radical rethink of the way education funding is allocated.
“The UK lags behind the rest of the world in terms of how many of us undertake vocational education after secondary school.
“Just 10 per cent of 25-40 year olds in the UK have a post-secondary vocational qualification, which pales in comparison to the US.
“Industry needs a reformed FE sector to provide the skills needed for productivity and growth. It is vital that we find the most effective way for FE to deliver this.”
Policy Exchange head of education Jonathan Simons said: “The case for training and for skills has never been more important – to help create three million apprenticeships, to fuel the ‘Northern powerhouse’, to boost social mobility and to drive economic growth.
“As well as degrees, we also need many more people with high-class technical and professional skills – and that means a flourishing further education system.
“It is clear that higher education is significantly better funded than its further education counterpart. Universities have substantial cash reserves which could be much better utilised than sitting in banks.”