National House-Building Council warns industry fails to take advantage of government funding

Construction firms are failing to take advantage of government funding for training, the National House-Building Council has warned.

The Council said the government's insistence on meeting its target of two million new homes by 2016 had lead to a pressing need to maintain skills in the construction sector.

But it said firms were continuing to miss out on untapped funding to train the future workforce.

Rob Lockey, head of training services at NHBC, said: “The recession has slowed home building to a snail's pace and reduced general construction activity; builders should be taking advantage of the funding options available while they still can.”

The NHBC has advised the industry to use the downturn as a period of “calm before the storm” to improve skills.

Funding offered through NHBC by the Learning and Skills Council, combined with a grant from CITB-ConstructionSkills for in-scope companies means that the costs of an NVQ can be offset, the NHBC said.

But Lockey warned the money may not be available for long, as levels available are reassessed on a regular basis.

“We have already had early warning that there are likely to be changes to the grant and funding structures,” he said. “The industry is missing a trick by not making the most of the money in the meantime.”

Lockey added: “NVQs are a fantastic way of improving skills, identifying knowledge gaps, and retaining the best people. Also with a higher percentage of homes, other buildings and infrastructure projects being funded by public money, having the necessary qualified people will be more important than ever.”