Training is essential for the growth of the construction industry whether for keeping on-site workers safe and compliant, improving ways of working for efficiency, developing the skills for new and traditional techniques, or recruiting new talent into the sector to tackle our seemingly never-ending skills shortage. As a sector we invest over £2.7bn in training to keep Britain building.
This year, as I write, construction companies will be having their say on the CITB’s Levy proposals through a process called Consensus, where those who are liable to pay the Levy can express their support or lack of it, for the Levy proposals. But it is important to consider this in context, CITB is not responsible for the vast majority of training expenditure. In 2021/22 CITB’s business plan has a planned £210m investment, which is minor contribution in comparison to the total invested in training by the construction industry as a total – in fact, less than 10%.
While the Levy consensus process unfolds, NFB members have a difficult decision on their hands. The vast majority of CITB is funded through Levy Payers, NFB’s own members pay in almost twice in levy to what they get back and our members are the backbone of the building industry. The question is therefore asked of us, who is benefitting?
We know that some companies and organisations do a very good job of navigating and using the levy funding system to their advantage. We also know that academic institutions and some trade associations receive a significant amount of funding, and this is, in my opinion, and considering the economic situation, not fair. My view is simple – only levy payers should receive funding to ensure the best possible return of skills for levy payers. No organisation should use levy funding as part of its business model, and I call for all organisations to follow with the approach that levy funds should all go to the levy payer.
CITB’s business plan for the next 5 years needs to ensure value for money – can we really say that CITB’s current delivery is efficient? Too much money is spent on delivery where it could be much more efficiently allocated to training. Our members have to work ever more efficiently, and so should CITB.
CITB still has a mountain to climb. It is their job to help the construction industry attract talent and to support skills development, to build a better Britain, yet it fails to satisfy many employers on its own metrics (as reported in its Annual Reports) and everyone in the industry is acutely aware that we still have a major skills shortage. For CITB to add value in the future it will need a new innovative way to deliver those skills, more efficiently, more effectively and more transparently. The construction industry needs a CITB that provides greater emphasis on value for money and a better return for businesses of all shapes and sizes, recognising the diversity of businesses within our sector and the high standards we all expect.
Chief Executive of the National Federation of Builders