Specialist ontractors this week welcomed the CITB's new on-site assessment initiative.

Robbie Beattie, training officer for Birkenhead-based housebuilder Porterbuilders, which last year took on 19 apprentices, said the initiative would create more opportunities for training.

"Monitoring the process will be the key to its success, but I'm hopeful it will prove to be what the industry needs to improve skill levels and get workers qualified." His view was echoed by a London-based plastering contractor. "Traditional apprenticeship training is no longer viable," he said, and added that the cost of sending apprentices to college for training was prohibitive and placed contractors which invested in training at a trading disadvantage.

"Contractors who don't train can pay higher rates to craftsmen."