Review of the Construction Industry Training Board launched

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The Construction Industry Training Board is among the UK training boards set to be reviewed by the government

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) is to come under review as part of a wider drive to examine the efficiency of UK training boards.

The review will be led by former chief construction adviser Paul Morrell, who will give recommendations for necessary reforms to keep the sector working at its full capacity.

Robert Halfon, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills said: “The government’s ambitious infrastructure and housing plans require a step up in capability and capacity in the construction sector.

“Training boards can help deliver the skills we desperately need and I look forward to seeing some real recommendations from this review.”

Sector needs to ‘modernise or die’

The news follows Mark Farmer’s review, which warned the industry needed to ‘modernise or die’ and raised a number of questions about the ability of the sector to meet building targets.

CITB’s director of policy Steve Radley said: “The Farmer report and this review raise a number of important questions about how to transform the performance and productivity of construction, and how CITB needs to reform to support this.

“It’s excellent news that Paul Morrell has been appointed to advise, as he knows the industry inside and out.

“We are working closely with government to ensure the review produces the right outcomes for industry, so that together we can help our sector modernise and grow.”

The government also revealed plans to amend its proposals for the apprenticeship levy, which is set to come into force in April 2017. The changes were made in response to concerns from the sector relating to affordability and will give employers more time to adapt via a transition period.

The levy will be paid by employers with a payroll bill totalling over £3m. Changes made to the levy include 20 per cent extra funding to train 16- to 18-year-olds; more money for training in the most deprived parts of England; and more money for employers who take on apprentices who are under 24-years-old and in care. Businesses will also have 24 months to spend training vouchers.

Changes to funding bands should alleviate concerns

Steve Radley, CITB director of policy, said: “Government’s changes to the funding bands for apprenticeship frameworks go some way to responding to the concerns raised by industry on affordability, especially since the new apprenticeship standards are not available for the vast majority of occupations.

“The funding offer has been improved and transition periods have been introduced, which offer the industry breathing space.

“The priority now must be to get the new Standards agreed as quickly as possible, so that employers can use them and access the higher funding rates they carry.”

Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said flexibility in the digital voucher model would be a critical component of whether or not the levy scheme was a success. He added: “This is especially true for the construction sector as two thirds of all construction apprentices are trained by SMEs.

“As long as larger contractors are unable, or unwilling, to play a greater role in industry training, then it’s vital that funds can be rerouted to smaller firms.

“The severity of our industry’s skills shortage means that we need to ensure that every single penny of Apprenticeship Levy that is extracted from the construction sector is reinvested in high quality construction apprenticeships.

“We had some concerns that if larger companies were not able to pass their vouchers onto smaller firms, the money would be left languishing in the general pot before eventually being spent by other sectors.

“Now it’s a question of ensuring that the digital voucher model is simple and easy for small firms to navigate.”

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