Kay Porter, TTA’s CEO, has recently written to the Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education, as follows:
I am writing to you regarding the above in my capacity as CEO of The Tile Association (TTA). We represent the entire UK wall and floor tiling sector – colleges, manufacturers, distributors/retailers, tiling contractors and independent tile fixers.
Training is a constant focus for us, and indeed for the whole industry, and we have a permanent Training Committee, which organises training courses on methods and materials at our Stone, Staffordshire, Head Office. It also produces publications and gets involved in projects like the annual Skillbuild Competition and World Skills.
We have a number of colleges in England and Wales, which offer tiling courses, in membership of TTA.
I have been asked by the Training Committee to write to you to express our very deep disappointment regarding current DfE plans to scrap funding for nearly 500 Level 1 and Level 2 vocational qualifications.
We believe this is being brought in after wholly inadequate consultation and will have a very damaging effect on the industry’s ability to recruit newly skilled tilers to the sector, at a time when the skills and labour shortage is already dramatically worse in recent years, as a result of the pandemic and other factors.
The withdrawal of funding amounting to £1,000 – £1,200 per student will, we believe, have a massive impact on student intake, resulting in many courses becoming unviable and ceasing to be offered.
The DfE has said that many of the courses for which funding is being withdrawn suffer from very low levels of enrolment. Our college members are telling us that this is not true, with regard to tiling courses, and that the sampling which was done to produce the figures was carried out during COVID years, which are not representative of the long term picture.
Unfortunately, the deadline for responding to the consultation, 1st August 2022, was not well-publicised, and many of our members, who are training professionals, working in the colleges or in industry, were unaware of this proposed change until after the consultation had closed.
If these changes go through, we believe the lack of funding will create a wholly unnecessary barrier to entry into the sector, especially for young people. It will severely limit the life choices of young people on the one hand and also have a damaging effect on the sector as a whole, which is currently suffering from an ageing and declining workforce.
Taking these factors into consideration, along with the fact that the consultation prior to implementation appears to have been inadequate, I would very much welcome the opportunity to meet with you and discuss whether it is possible to salvage this situation and ensure that NVQ qualifications in wall and floor tiling remain available to the widest possible number of new entrants to the industry.
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.