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Quarter of contractors cut training budgets in 2010

The stagnant economy is taking its toll on skills as over a quarter of construction businesses in the UK reduced their training activity in 2010, with 18 per cent planning to scale back training even further this year, according to new research from CITB-ConstructionSkills.

A poll of 1,500 construction employers, the Employer Attitudes and Motivations to Learning and Training survey, found 26 per cent of firms had cut back on training.

It shows job-specific training has been hardest hit with 16 per cent of all employers cutting back.

Health and Safety has also been cut, with eight per cent of employers reducing their training. And management and supervisory training is also down by two per cent.

But the survey found the industry remains receptive to the importance of training, with 24 per cent believing that improving skills is more important in the post-recession environment.

CITB-ConstructionSkills chief executive Mark Farrar said:  “As a cost cutting measure in times of economic hardship, training budgets are sadly often the first to suffer. Although recognition of the importance of staff skills is high, the research shows that training levels could fall further still.

“For these reasons, CITB-ConstructionSkills will be doing all it can to help and support construction employers in continuing to up-skill and train their workforce - ensuring that they have right skills, in the right place and at the right time.”

Training cuts varied across the country with the West Midlands, the North-west, and Scotland scaling back by 39, 37 and 35 per cent respectively.

Only 10 per cent of respondents said they had increased training in 2010, and of those 41 per cent made the decision because of a need to increase the skills levels of their staff; 25 per cent did so to give them a competitive advantage; and nine per cent did so because of diversification and a change in their area of work.

Employer services director Mike Bialyj added: “Clearly, businesses have never been more careful about how they allocate their spending, but I urge them to get in touch and we will work together identify the right solutions that suit them.

“For example, apprenticeships add value to any training programme, for which we can offer additional grants and support services.” 

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