The government's review of the CITB-ConstructionSkills levy system has put proposals for an M&E training fund under threat.
Seven M&E trade bodies have spent the past year developing proposals for a mandatory training fund in an attempt to match the funding offered by the CITB to the building trades.
However, the government is rethinking the wisdom of levy systems as evidence grows that the CITB's support within the construction industry is ebbing. The training body is statutorily required to have the backing of 50% of its stakeholders; at the moment it stands at 50.16%.
Tony Thomas, training director of the Heating and Ventilating Contractors' Association, which has been leading the push for a central M&E training fund, said it was likely that the current government review of the CITB levy would have an impact on the proposals.
He said: "The review is certainly raising a question mark over the acceptability of statutory training schemes to industry. We will try to use any government findings as positively as we can for our campaign, but this hasn't come at a particularly good time for us."
We will try to use the findings positively, but this hasn’t come at a good time for us
Tony Thomas, training director, HVCA
Thomas added that any central fund could only work if it was a statutory requirement, possibly based on a tax on turnover. He said: "We've always been of the opinion that only a statutory measure would work."
The HVCA has been involved in talks over the initiative with the Electrical Contractors Association, the Scottish electrical body SELECT, the Association of Ductwork Contractors and Allied Services, the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Industry Board, the Plumbing and Heating Industry Alliance and the Institution of Refrigeration.
The M&E sector pulled out of the CITB in the late 1980s on the grounds that its needs had been neglected.
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