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CITB-Construction Skills avoids the axe

Construction industry training body CITB-ConstructionSkills is to retain its public sector status, the Government announced today.

The decision puts an end to months of speculation about the future of the Industry Training Board and the levy system after leaks about the Cabinet Office’s review of quangos were published in the autumn.

CITB-ConstructionSkills, which was introduced in the 1960s to help ensure that the industry invests in skills, is funded through a statutory levy on construction firms.

Last year the body collected £163 million through the levy, which is supplemented with funds from commercial activities.

A spokesman for the Department for Business said:  “Government has agreed that the Industry Training Boards for construction, engineering construction and film will be retained as non-departmental public bodies. 

“The ITBs are owned and directed by the employers in their industry and act independently of Government. The central purpose of the ITBs is to meet the skill needs of their industries through consensus support for a statutory levy.”

James Wates, Chairman of CITB-ConstructionSkills described the decision as “a positive endorsement of the levy and the work that we do” but admitted that the body needed to modernise.

“Our industry is changing, and we need to change with it,” he said. “The board recognises that continuing to reform the organisation could be beneficial to improve its overall effectiveness.

“A more commercial approach and a drive for income from other sources, added to employer funds, could provide additional funding for investment in a wider range of training activities needed by industry.”

Suzannah Nichol, chief executive of the National Specialist Contractors’ Council, welcomed the announcement.

“CITB-ConstructionSkills has demonstrated that it’s listening and responding to industry needs and provides a valued support in the current economic climate,” she said.

Stephen Ratcliffe, director of the UK Contractors Group, added: “The next three years will be challenging for our industry as we emerge from recession into growth, and we will need a strong and politically independent Industry Training Board working alongside us, to maintain industry’s investment in skills.”

However, national director at the Civil Engineering Contractors Association Rosemary Beales warned that a question mark remains over the future of CITB.

“The full future of CITB-ConstructionSkills will only be clear following the results of the current consultation on the continuation of the Levy Order,” she said.

“Ceca is confident that this consultation, along with CITB- ConstructionSkills’s own moves to reform itself, will deliver an organisation that is geared up to help industry tackle the skills challenges that will face the industry in the years to come.”

CITB was one of around 40 quangos that were placed “under consideration” as part of the Cabinet Office review.

Other industry-relevant bodies on the list included Cabe – which has since merged with the Design Council - and the Partnership for Schools, whose future which will become clear after the James Review is published.

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