James Wates’ appointment as chair of the CITB CSkills board (12 February, page 10) has some clear benefits for the sector, and he will bring real strengths to the role
However, the CITB board’s lack of knowledge and experience from the specialist contracting sector is a real worry. Half the work in construction is done by specialists, yet the board has barely any representation from anyone who has ever fitted a window, laid a floor, or fixed a ceiling.
How will CSkills meet its target of getting the right skills in the right place at the right time if the people at the top don’t understand the industry they represent? There is clearly a role for those skilled in navigating the corridors of Whitehall, and the board has serious players in the positions of chair and deputy chair. But the industry would be better served by returning the balance to something approaching the real picture. This implies that most of the board be drawn from the people actually doing the work, who understand the issues affecting the majority of construction businesses.
We trust the industry will not be left waiting until March 2015 before the specialist sector is more strongly represented on the CSkills board – otherwise it’s easy to foresee further disillusionment among levy payers, which can only help those calling for the dissolution of the industry’s training board.
Simon Forrester, chief executive, Association of Interior Specialists
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