Two decades after ditching the CITB, the M&E sector considers its own levy to boost skills

Seven M&E trade associations are to propose a compulsory training levy on their members in an attempt to match the funding offered by CITB-ConstructionSkills to the building trades.

The M&E sector pulled out of the Construction Industry Training Board in the late 1980s on the grounds that its needs had been neglected. It has now returned to the idea of creating a kitty to fund training programmes.

The seven trade bodies involved in the talks are the Heating and Ventilating Contractors Association, the Electrical Contractors Association, the Scottish electrical body SELECT, the Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Industry Board, the Association of Ductwork Contractors and Allied Services, the Institution of Refrigeration and the Plumbing and Heating Industry Alliance.

A spokesperson for the HVCA said there was growing dissatisfaction over the absence of a central training fund.

He said: “Although we do not regret the move away from the CITB, there is a certain regret about losing its levy approach. There is a growing sympathy among members for a training fund where people that do not train workers make some contribution to those that do. It is a general opportunity to replenish skills in the sector.”

Companies ought to be required to contribute

HVCA spokesperson

The spokesperson said any measure would be mandatory, and would have to cover the entire sector in order to be workable. He said: “Everybody has got to be convinced. We are not saying that a levy is the only way to do it but there should be some sort of statutory fund. Companies ought to be required to contribute.”

The spokesperson added that discussions on the levy had been put on hold while SummitSkills, the sector skills council for the M&E industry, was being formed. SummitSkills would probably be involved in administering the fund.

The initiative comes as CITB-ConstructionSkills, in effect the parallel body to SummitSkills, revealed that it is to examine training provision to decide which courses are worthy of funding.

The CITB will work with the Learning and Skills Council to ensure that funding is geared to courses that will improve trainees’ employability and meet the needs of the industry.