Five UK universities to insert training requirements in tenders as part of a CITB-backed pilot programme.
Five of the UK's largest universities are piloting a programme that could see them paying contractors to train their construction workers.

Under the scheme, the universities, which include Cambridge and University College London, will insert specific training requirements in tenders.

These will include minimum standard requirements and specialised briefs for particular jobs. The decision by the universities, which also include Oxford, Bristol and UMIST, follows their frustration over the quality and speed of construction work.

Cambridge University estates head David Adamson said that under the scheme, training costs would be shared between client, contractor and the Construction Industry Training Board, which is working with the universities.

Adamson said: "We are suggesting that clients should be prepared to pay for part of special training for particular projects."

He added that the money could go towards training particular employees working on schemes to improve the quality of work.

The scheme, Adamson continued, would help to break down contractors' wariness of putting money into training.

He said: "This will set a level playing field, so that contractors can do the training they want without fear of being undercut on price by rivals that do not invest in training."

Adamson said the scheme should produce a win-win situation for the industry and clients.

"The more the industry requires and pays for training, the better the product we will get and the more cost-effective it will be," he said.

The scheme was also attracting interest from government departments including the Home Office, Adamson added.

Adamson said Cambridge University, which has a development programme of £528m, had identified four projects for the scheme.

CITB training policy analyst Pat Bowen welcomed the move. He said: "Anything that enhances training has got to be a good thing. If a client can plan for training as part of a contract it helps."

Bowen said training could range from providing on-site toolbox talks to professional packages for specific employees.

The five universities won government funding for the scheme last year and it was formally launched last month at a presentation for the Association of University Directors of Estates. The scheme is also backed by the Construction Industry Council.