The CITB has one last chance to fundamentally reform and start facilitating quality training en masse among the construction industry’s smaller firms, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
The FMB has announced its qualified support for the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) as part of the consensus process, submitting its official letter to the CITB’s Chief Executive Sarah Beale.
There was a formal focus group discussion at each of the FMB’s 10 area board meetings. Members were asked for their views on the CITB and at the end of the discussion, they were asked if they support the continuation of the levy.
Nine out of 10 of these area boards indicated a general view that although the CITB requires fundamental reform, the skills shortage would be made worse if there was no industry board to drive training in our sector.
The letter stressed that FMB members are dissatisfied with the performance of CITB and do not want the FMB’s support for the continuation of the levy to be interpreted as support for the status quo. It said that the CITB must be totally transformed.
“Yes, the FMB has decided to give its support for the continuation of the levy but we do not want this support to be interpreted as support for the status quo,” said Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB. “The CITB is broken and we must all pitch in to ensure we fix it. The stakes couldn’t be higher because unless we get this right, the construction skills crisis will continue to worsen and the government will be unable to meet its ambitious housebuilding and infrastructure objectives.”
The FMB said it will be holding the CITB to account over the coming months and years and if the organisation does not achieve better outcomes, the FMB will recommend to its members that to remove its support during the next consensus process in three years’ time.
Berry said, “FMB members are divided regarding the future of CITB – some want to see it continue and others want to see it abolished but all agree that it is not currently working for the industry’s smaller firms.
The FMB is demanding that the CIBT improve its governance; simplify its grant scheme; improve the quality of its training; change the way the levy is collected to create a more level playing field; involve organisations in Scotland; and invest grants where they are most needed.
“Crucial to the future success of the CITB is a review of its governance structure,” said Berry. “It is shocking that the CITB Board contains only one representative from an SME construction firm. Furthermore, this individual is a Human Resources professional rather than someone with an SME contractor background. Given that SME firms make up 98% of the construction industry and train two-thirds of all apprentices, the FMB wants to see this reflected at Board level with at least half of its members being SME contractor representatives.
“If we get the governance structure right, the CITB will automatically start to better reflect the needs of small construction firms.”
Berry added, “Too few SME levy payers are claiming back CITB grants and this is because the process is too complicated and bureaucratic. The CITB needs to make all of its processes as simple and straightforward as possible.
“Unlike larger firms, most SMEs cannot afford to employ people who dedicate their time to drafting CITB grant applications in order to ensure their firm maximises all opportunities to claim back grants. If we want SMEs to train more apprentices and upskill their workforce, all forms of CITB grant funding pots need to be as easy to access as the new CITB Flexible Fund.”