We hear two opposing viewpoints over whether the CITB construction levy should be axed
For the Levy: Richard Diment, Director General of the FMB
The FMB is very pleased that the government has decided to retain CITB-ConstructionSkills within the public sector. The government’s decision reflects the vital work that CITB-ConstructionSkills does to promote much needed investment and growth in the construction sector. Hopefully, the decision will mean that we can all concentrate on the urgent task of delivering the skilled workforce that our industry needs. The industry training board levy/grant system means employers receive financial support to help offset the costs of taking on a new trainee or developing the skills of existing employees. In addition, the way the funding is allocated is constantly under review to help ensure all employers’ training needs are genuinely catered for.
“There are new challenges that the industry must manage in order to stay competitive, including the transition to a low carbon built environment. Despite the incredibly tough economic background, investment in training must remain a priority in order to cope with future demand. Many small construction businesses have turned their attention to surviving the recession, which means training has been put on the back burner and apprenticeship numbers have taken a huge tumble. This is entirely understandable, but it also means we are facing the very real threat of a major skills gap when the economy returns to more sustained patterns of growth, which is why the FMB is working hard with CITB-ConstructionSkills to help promote the funding available. It is difficult to imagine where we would be without the support delivered through the levy/grant system.
Against the levy: Kathy Bachler, Director BAC Construction
As a director of a small construction company, it comes as no surprise that the CITB has managed to keep its stay of execution – for the time being at least. With the grant falling below acceptable levels by any standards (currently £17.50 paid out to cover the cost of a training day, and likely to fall further) now is the time to debate whether it’s time to say goodbye to the CITB and the diminishing returns of the levy grant.
The future of the levy will be examined formally later this year when ConstructionSkills will consult with 14 federations to determine whether their members remain satisfied with the functioning of the levy and the rates at which levy is charged. For the levy to remain in force, more than 50% of these federations need to support its continuation.
Isn’t it time the sector was allowed to take responsibility for its own learning and training budget and agenda – like the majority of other industries in this country?
ConstructionSkills has fought a long and hard battle for its survival using scare tactics, suggesting that alternative options are too horrendous to consider. They purport that contractors would be “lost at sea”, unable to administer their own training schemes without ConstructionSkills overseeing the process (and being paid a tidy sum for the privilege).
According to ConstructionSkills we have never valued training and need the ’stick’ of the levy parliamentary order to beat us into training our workforce.
In short, it’s time to say “goodbye” to the CITB.