Industry associations welcome the government’s decision to retain the CITB in the public sector

The government has confirmed it will not axe CITB-ConstructionSkills after months of speculation about the fate of the industry training body.

Industry associations welcomed the government’s decision to retain the CITB’s public sector status and levy raising powers.

CITB insiders had feared the body might lose its public sector status and ability to raise the levy.

But in a statement, the government confirmed the body will retain its fundraising powers and continue to report to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

James Wates, chairman of CITB-ConstructionSkills, said: “We welcome the news that CITB-ConstructionSkills is to be retained under the Public Bodies Act.

“We view the decision as a positive endorsement of the levy and the work that we do to add value to our employers by ensuring the industry has the right skills in place to improve standards and contribute towards economic growth.”

Wates added the body will now look to reform itself and increase revenues from commercial sources.

“Our industry is changing, and we need to change with it. The board recognises that continuing to reform the organisation could be beneficial and improve its overall effectiveness.

“A more commercial approach and a drive for income from other sources, added to employer funds, could provide additional funding for investment in a wider range of training activities needed by industry.”

The majority of the quango’s funding is raised through a levy on construction companies, which is enforced by statute.

Last year CITB-ConstructionSkills collected £163m through the levy, which is supplemented with funds from commercial activities.

A recent survey showed that 69% of all employers support the continuation of the levy system. 

A BIS spokesperson said: “Government has agreed that the Industry Training Boards for Construction, Engineering Construction and Film will be retained as non-departmental public bodies.  

“The ITBs are owned and directed by the employers in their industry and act independently of government. The central purpose of the ITBs is to meet the skill needs of their industries through consensus support for a statutory levy.”

Suzannah Nichol, chief executive of NSCC, said: “This is welcome news. CITB-ConstructionSkills has demonstrated that it’s listening and responding to industry needs and provides a valued support in the current economic climate. We’re delighted to see this role recognised and look forward to continuing the excellent relationship the specialists have with CITB-ConstructionSkills”.

Stephen Ratcliffe, director of UKCG, said: “We welcome Government’s decision to retain CITB-ConstructionSkills under the Public Bodies Bill. The next three years will be challenging for our industry as we emerge from recession into growth, and we will need a strong and politically independent Industry Training Board working alongside us, to maintain industry’s investment in skills.”