In the fight to halt the partly self-inflicted skills crisis, the CITB’s latest scheme is project-based training centres. But is it all too little, too late?
At times the building industry is the author of its own misfortune. Take the skills shortage for instance. Contractors bemoan the dearth of qualified workers, but at the same time don’t offer enough on-the-job training for students to complete NVQ qualifications.

In a bid to counter this and get more trainees on site, the Construction Industry Training Board is in talks with the government to create temporary training companies that will exist alongside live construction projects.

The aim of these project-based training partnerships is to involve the whole supply chain so that trainees work with clients, contractors and subcontractors, training providers and local agencies. This would also include specialist contractors, which often don’t take on trainees because they are unsure of their future orders and so can’t guarantee work.

The government has already taken measures this month to boost the amount of work experience in the industry. It has turned the CITB into a sector skills council and giving it a new name – CITB- ConstructionSkills. This ultimate training body will also be run by the Construction Industry Council and will have a say in the spending of £300m of central government funding for the whole industry from site workers to professionals.

Part of the body’s remit is to create partnerships between contractors and schools to help fund construction work experience for 14-16 year olds. Secretary of state for education Charles Clark said that the construction industry should take a closer interest in colleges and have a say in the content of future building courses.

With SSC status the CITB says there will be a more integrated approach to training and recruitment across the whole construction process - design, build, production and maintenance. Clark says the ultimate goal for the SSC is to train enough homegrown construction workers to eliminate the need for workers from overseas.

Whether the name change will make any difference will be determined by how willing the construction industry will be to lend a helping hand to trainees. They can hardly expect to cream off the best of the newly qualified workers if they don’t contribute to their development in the first place.