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CITB answers critics with new hire courses

PLANT Training to be set up for hire workers in response to calls for more value from levy

THE CITB has responded swiftly to plant and tool hirers' calls for more value from training levy payments by drawing up plans to introduce courses targeted at the sector.

In addition to launching courses for hirers at its National Construction College, the CITB is to review the whole grant programme, with a view to making financial support available to more courses.

This is expected to open up training to a whole tier of smaller hirers which were previously excluded from grant funding.

Courses such as hire management, transportation and loading of plant, hire desk operation and plant sales and marketing could be available as soon as next year, either offered by the CITB or eligible for funding.

The move follows mounting criticism from the plant and tool sector that companies are being made to pay a training levy for which they receive no relevant training in return.

Although the CITB's Certificate of Training Achievement scheme for plant operators has been a success, firms that hire plant without operators have had few courses available to them.

The Construction Plant-hire Association, a long-term supporter of the CTA scheme, led calls for a new training approach that reflects the move from many of its members away from operated plant.

At a summit between senior management of the CTA and the CITB, a framework for a new partnership with the hire sector was hammered out.

The Training Board is to set up regular meetings with the CPA in a bid to establish and review courses for hirers. The CPA will shortly be surveying its 1,200 members in a bid to ascertain which courses would be most appropriate.

CITB chief executive Peter Lobban is keen to widen the industry's access to grant funding. As well as backing new areas for training, he is looking at factors such as the duration and timing of courses.

The move has been welcomed by hirers, both for its intent and the surprisingly rapid response. Colin Wood, chief executive of the CPA, said: 'It was an extremely positive meeting and we felt reassured by the steps being taken already to make the grant available to more people.

'We are keen that smaller users in particular can get the benefit of training. We look forward to the ongoing dialogue.'