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ConstructionSkills calls for funding rise

NEWS - Firms should receive more funding for taking on apprentices, claims UK's largest skills body

CONSTRUCTION'S skills council is looking for more financial support for employers taking on apprentices following the launch of a major consultation with the industry.

Employers will have the chance to vent their views on training policy and funding to ConstructionSkills - the sector skills council formed from the CITB, the Construction Industry Council and CITB Northern Ireland - until September.

The move comes as further education colleges come under increasing pressure to find placements with employers for apprentices who have completed the technical full-time elements of their course.

Apprenticeship grants funded by the industry levy have increased 50 per cent in the last three years and the system - which offers maximum funding of £6,772 for a three-year apprenticeship - is full to the brim.

CITB-ConstructionSkills wants more funding to compensate for the high costs of onsite mentoring, supervision and assessment.

The organisation is committed to keeping the industry levy fixed, so the skills council is looking for either additional cash or for the Learning and Skills Council to redirect funding from colleges into employers' pockets.

According to statistics from the CITB-ConstructionSkills, 75 per cent of the industry does not train apprentices. It instead relies on subcontracted or self-employed labour, so there is no business case for taking on apprentices.

And the body is also hoping to set up partnering deals with major contractors, who will set up agreements with subbies to share training responsibilities on major projects such as the Thames Gateway.

The push for numbers comes as CITB-ConstructionSkills estimates that the industry will need 83,000 new recruits a year by 2007.

Employers will also be asked for their views on graduate entrants to the industry as there is also a concern that degree courses currently on offer are not up to scratch.