The CITB has revealed plans to overhaul the way it pays grants to construction firms.
Interim chief executive of the training board Sarah Beale told Construction News its proposals would see the introduction of automated grant payments from April 2018 – with firms no longer having to apply to the CITB for the cash.
Ms Beale said the automated system would alleviate an HR burden on firms, particularly SMEs, with employers no longer having to engage in a lengthy grant-application process.
The move forms part of a range of proposed reforms ahead of the CITB’s efforts to attain a Levy Order from the government to allow it to continue receiving money from construction firms.
As part of this process, the CITB is required to gain ‘consensus’ that it should keep collecting a levy, which is achieved by gaining the support of more than 50 per cent of surveyed industry firms and trade federations.
Under the current grant system, after training is carried out, employers have to prove to the CITB that this could be covered by a relevant grant.
This requires a form to be filled out by the company and processed by the CITB before money is paid back to the company.
Construction News has heard complaints from multiple SMEs that this process is highly bureaucratic and lengthy, with firms often unsure what training qualifies for grant payments.
Under the plans, the CITB would create a system where CITB-approved training providers would be given the power to notify the organisation when training had been completed, and the CITB would hand out grants automatically on the back of this information.
This would be supported by a directory of CITB-approved training providers covered by agreed training standards.
Ms Beale said: “We have heard feedback such as that we are not returning enough money to SMEs, that we are leaning too much towards the larger companies […] and that we are probably more bureaucratic than we would have liked to have been.”
She added that the proposed grant system would have “massive benefits” for SMEs, as it would remove an administrative burden.
The plans would also see the launch of a “national competence register” for construction workers, which would provide employers with a “training CV” for every employee, outlining the training that person has undertaken throughout their career.
Last week Construction News reported that the CITB planned to slash the amount of levy paid by firms by almost a third.
Ms Beale, who took up her latest role this month following a stint as CITB chief financial officer, said the new levy rate and grant system would make up the organisation’s offer to industry ahead of consensus, which is to begin in August this year.
She said the CITB had spent a lot of time “talking, listening and reflecting on” what the industry wanted from the organisation and delivering that plan.
The CITB had a challenge ahead of it proving its worth to the industry, Ms Beale admitted, but she insisted it had a future.
“There is without a doubt a challenge this year – we are not just asking for a new Levy Order; we are asking for support of a completely new CITB,” she said.
“There are a lot of supporters though and a lot of people that recognise that if the CITB wasn’t here we would be designing a new one. We need to make sure the value we provide for the industry is efficient and covers the areas it needs to.”