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CIOB slams new skills priorities

The Chartered Institute of Building has knocked the construction industry’s Sector Skills Council for allocating grants unfairly towards apprentices over experienced professionals.

As part of a review of its grants procedure, the industry’s sector skills body, CITB-ConstructionSkills, has scrapped the grants for the CIOB site management and first line supervisor modules, and Investors in People, as well as halving the size of the technical and professional achievement grant.

ConstructionSkills said in a statement that with levy income expected to fall below original predictions in 2009/10, the board was “forced to make tough decisions and prioritise those grants that best meet the industry’s training requirements.”

But the CIOB said the amendments, which enshrine core grants for apprenticeships and new entrants for the year starting August 2009 and beyond, proved the skills body had failed to learn the lessons of the last recession.

CIOB chief executive Chris Blythe said that by limiting the ability of existing parts of the industry to continue their professional development, the amendments risked losing experienced professionals.

“What these changes will do is hold back experienced workers and deny them the opportunity to progress their career in construction,” he said. “We feel this is a short-sighted approach and will create a shortage of site managers with practical experience in the industry. It is clear from their announcement that CITB has an emphasis on craft and apprenticeship levels and is undervaluing the professional and management occupations despite the amount of levy collected from that section of the workforce.”

Last year, £176 million was paid out to 23,500 construction firms in grants, to support training and help to improve the competitiveness of their business. This represented a £20 million overrun in initial forecasts.

The overrun prompted a review of the Grants Scheme by CITB-ConstructionSkills and its sub-committees. A number of grants were affected by the changes to the Grants Scheme. These include:

  • Reduction of the Technical and Professional achievement grant (from £1,000 - £500)
  • Removal of Investors in People grant – although existing plans will be honoured and companies who have already committed can apply to receive Investors in People grant until 31 July 2010 (total of £5,000)
  • Removal of On Site Assessment and Training profiling grant (£100)
  • The limit for Short Duration grants will be reduced (from £10,000 to £5,000 per annum)
  • Removal of the Health and Safety Test grant (£17.50). Health & Safety training will continue to be supported through the Training and Development Plan and Short Duration routes
  • Reduction in the supplementary payment rates for grants – with the exception of apprentice and new entrant grants from 25 per cent to 20 per cent
  • Removal of grant for the CIOB Site Management and First Line Supervisor modules (£250 per module)