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Industry prepares for apprenticeships cash curb

13 May 2011

Construction companies can expect a reduction in government funding for training, despite chancellor George Osborne’s commitment to increase investment in apprenticeships and double the number of university technical colleges, writes Michael Glackin. 

Firms believe the government’s desire to reduce youth unemployment will lead to an increase in the number of apprenticeships without a commensurate per head increase in funding.

Tom Gibney, CITB-ConstructionSkills standards and qualifications operational national manager, said: “Most businesses and providers expect the government will want more for less money. That means government will want to get more apprentices into the system at what will ultimately be a reduced cost. They may well increase the amount of overall funding, but providers are expecting it will amount to an overall reduction per capita once the details are made clear.”

He added: “As it stands now the current funding level is in place until July. If the government could sustain that funding per head it would be good news for the industry, but unfortunately, bearing in mind the pressures on the public purse, most providers are expecting a reduction in real terms when the new funding levels are announced later this year.”

Research by the training body shows more than 25% of construction firms reduced their training last year with 10% planning to cut it further this year. The CITB said the number of construction apprentices in Britain last year was 32,000, down from 44,500 in 2008.

The downbeat assessment of training funding comes as an online survey completed by 1,000 CIOB members revealed concern about skills shortages. In his Budget Osborne promised to increase funding to create an extra 40,000 apprenticeships over the next four years as part of a £180m plan to generate jobs. The government is also looking to create a further 10,000 advanced and higher apprenticeship schemes.

Earlier this month the CITB announced that ConstructionSkills levy payers will receive an extra 12% supplementary payment on grant claims for the next three years.

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