Following mounting concerns from members, the National Executive Board of the National Federation of Builders (NFB) has unanimously called for major reforms to the CITB in order to support skills in the sector.
The decision, made last week, follows concerns raised by the NFB’s Major Contractors Group (comprised of main contractors with a turnover of £40m+) in May and underling concerns raised by the NFB’s Regional Executive Boards in November last year.
The NFB’s Board recorded its explicit recognition of the importance of a pan-industry approach to investing in skills for the sector, and the aims of the CITB, but noted a number of serious concerns with the delivery of those aims through the organisation itself.
Specifically, the NFB is now calling for:
1) Keeping consensus
The CITB only exists because it has the blessing of the industry. This year the CITB is due to hold its consensus vote but it has been reported that this may be delayed in light of changes to the CITB’s business plan. Noting the widespread suspension and cutting of training and skills projects and programmes, the NFB is calling for consensus to go ahead this year, giving industry the chance to have its say on the CITB’s reformed offer to industry.
2) Reformed operations
The NFB has significant concerns regarding the cost of operation of the CITB, the inefficient means and cost of collection of Levy and the ability of the organisation to continue training and skills delivery – as numerous programmes across the sector have been suspended or cut at the same time as rapidly depleting reserves. The NFB is calling for major governance reforms to ensure better value for money, efficient collection and continued delivery of skills and training projects and programmes.
3) Equality of outcomes
The NFB is concerned that CITB’s own figures show that Levy is collected from micro, small and medium sized business and redistributed through grant expenditure to large businesses, with a net transfer to the tune of over £9m. The NFB is calling for a fairer approach to grant expenditure, ensuring that businesses of all sizes benefit equitably.
Commenting, Nick Sangwin, Chair of the National Federation of Builders said: “We have today written to Gillian Keegan MP the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister to outline our concerns about the operation of the CITB and to request that consensus takes place this year. At the last consensus CITB were put on notice and we listened and gave them our approval. Many members feel that they haven’t listened to what we were telling them three years ago. With increasing bureaucracy in accessing training funding, reduced levels of local training, swathing suspensions and cuts to funded projects and programmes; CITB needs a fundamental shake-up and should ask industry to approve a new way forward. The CITB should not hide from asking industry to endorse its approach to spending our money, to train our people.”
Herman Kok, Company Secretary of the Lindum Group, a £170M turnover construction company added: “I have chaired a Lincolnshire CITB funded training group for 18+ years. It saddens me that CITB appears to have completely lost its way. No support for Health and Safety training, no support for companies of our size and no support for (small) local training companies and still CITB insists on levying our industry at the start of what is likely to be one of the worst recessions in living memory. A topsy-turvy world: Instead of CITB supporting us, our industry is asked to support the CITB! And for what?”