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Quality suffers under CITB's stranglehold on training provision


Sir, I manage a construction training department. I and all my tutors served an indentured apprenticeship under the auspices of the now defunct National Joint Councils. This was a four-year apprenticeship and the watchword was 'quality' - the companies involved demanded the finished article.

Fast forward 30 years and we have the CSCS scheme, which all the major contractors have invested in.

But this doesn't cover the one man band who builds domestic extensions and the like, because the CITB decided they wouldn't pay for a CSCS card anyway. At a stroke this ignores the millions of small contractors employed in the construction industry. This means the cowboys can keep on coming, no doubt having completed a Level 2 NVQ in hours or months.

The next scheme, On Site Assessment and Training, is so open to abuse even the serial abusers themselves can't believe it. On it workers who couldn't be bothered to serve a recognised apprenticeship can be fast-tracked to a qualification, so fast, in fact, that a 16-yearold apprentice carpenter can achieve an NVQ Level 2 and Building Maintenance Level 2 before his 17th birthday. This is condoned by the Construction Industry's Lead and Awarding Body and the Sector Skills Council for Construction.

The CITB says it is acting in the interests of the industry. It says it is improving standards in training. Yet it is continually altering or changing training criteria and offering alternatives at great expense to the very colleges and training providers who strive to produce quality workers.

This is an organisation which writes the standards, acts as its own watchdog and imposes its own ineffective policing (they call it external verification).

Meanwhile its joint awarding partner, City & Guilds, sits back and watches the tide of certificates flow into the hands of the 'tradespeople' who flood the industry with their brand of 'quality'. Is it any wonder that the training does not meet the needs of the industry when the Construction Industry Training Board believes 'quality' comes in an A4 envelope?

I make no apologies for my indignant opinion. Having spent 25 years on site and been involved in training and education for 14 years, I have viewed the problems at first hand from both sides and the single most common problem is the negative contribution made by the CITB.

Your correspondent of June 22 ('Why NVQs are letting us down') hits the nail firmly on the head. But it is not the NVQs that are letting us down, it is those people who retort: 'It's what the industry demands'.

It is time for the CITB to wake up or let go of its stranglehold on the industry.

A southern assessor Name and address supplied