HBF delivers massive vote of no-confidence in training board

Stewart baseley new 2014 web

Members of the Home Builders Federation (HBF) have delivered an crushing vote of no-confidence in the CITB, with nearly two thirds of member firms polled voting against the board continuing as the lead body for construction training.

Breaking with a number of other organisations including Build UK and the Federation of Master Builders which have voted in favour of the CITB, the HBF reported that in terms of levy paid, 89% of its members had voted against it.

The HBF said that while many expected the CITB to secure enough support in the industry-wide vote – formally held on the CITB’s proposals for its levy for the next three years – to continue, its own message was “very clearly a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the current operation”.

The outcome of the triennial consensus will be revealed next month.

Frustration with CITB had been increasing within the house building industry “for some years”, the HBF said. “Critics have questioned its effectiveness and ability to deliver the training requirements of an industry with different skills needs to the wider construction sector,” it added, while the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy meant many home builders were effectively being taxed twice for skills provision.

The HBF said the “complex, overly bureaucratic nature of the process builders have to go through to access training funding” had been “particularly frustrating”.

It said its larger members reported having to employ specific members of staff “in order to claw back just a fraction of the money paid through their own levy payments, from CITB for training, something many of HBF’s hundreds of smaller members don’t have the capacity to do, meaning they miss out”.

And what it called the CITB’s proposals to focus more narrowly on core construction skills meant that home builders would pay a levy in respect of their whole workforce, but risk being able to obtain support for a smaller proportion of their workers than they do now.

Stewart Baseley (pictured), the HBF’s executive chairman, said the vote demonstrated the frustrations house builders felt with CITB and the existing training regime. “The industry simply does not feel that CITB is providing the support and framework it needs to train its staff despite the huge amounts being paid in levy by home builders.”

He said housebuilders were “keen to work with CITB to drive the truly radical change needed within the organisation to address the concerns the vote has exposed”, but warned that his members “desperately need a training body focussed on its requirements with which it can work closely to develop training regimes that are easily accessible to companies large and small”.

He added: “We hope this will be the wake-up call CITB needs to drive root and branch change through its entire organisation.

“If we are to develop the capacity to build the high quality homes the country desperately needs, the industry must recruit and train more people. The launch of our Home Building Skills Pledge is a clear demonstration of the industry’s commitment to investing in its training needs now and in the future.

The result of HBF members’ vote comes ahead of the industry launching its own ‘Home Building Skills Pledge’ later this week.

The Skills Pledge commits companies to working together and with subcontractors to recruit and train more people to the highest industry-agreed standards.