Opinion

CITB to focus on productivity and Brexit in 2018

5 January 2018 | By Sarah Beale

Chief executive says this year will be a year of transformation after an uncertain 2017.

Whether you’re a bricklayer building the homes our nation needs, a politician or the head of a construction firm, I think we can all agree that 2017 was a year of uncertainty.

From the uncertainty arising from the Brexit negotiations we’ve seen uncertainty in the markets and, crucially, uncertainty for employers looking to plan ahead.

In a year which saw question marks over the future of the government and turbulence for industry, so too was CITB’s future in the balance as we waited for the outcome of the Consensus vote and the Review into Industry Training Boards.

But despite these challenges, we managed to get on with the job and have taken steps on our reform journey. We have sold our awarding body, CSkills, to a more suitable industry partner, delivered an Apprenticeship Service recently rated as outstanding by Ofsted, and built our evidence base with research into offsite construction, migration and immersive learning.

We have also improved our reach, with the Skills and Training Fund being accessed by hundreds of small and micro construction firms over the past 18 months.

“By spring, we will have a new Chair and additional SME representation on our Board, followed by the introduction of new national committees for England, Scotland and Wales – a really effective shareholder-style body of senior industry figures to lead our organisation.”

Sarah Beale, CITB chief executive

We also announced our strategy for the next three years, Vision 2020, complete with proposals that will help CITB evolve into the strategic, forward-looking and agile skills body the industry is seeking.

Now, with the backing of our industry and the government, we have a much stronger foundation to build upon. If 2017 was a year of uncertainty, then 2018 will be a year for transformation.

As an industry we need to put our heads together and agree on how we will meet the twin challenges of Brexit and homebuilding, including a plan to recruit and train more British workers alongside greater investment in modern construction methods and technology.  

Looking at Brexit, our role will be to lead on creating the evidence base for industry and government. It will also mean coordinating industry training and supporting it in making the case to government on what a future migration regime might look like and the breathing space needed to prepare for it.     

A key plank of the response will be boosting productivity. Recently, construction cemented a sector deal with the government, which will lead to hundreds of millions of pounds of investment from both construction firms and government to modernise the industry and recruit and train the next generation of high-skilled workers.

The construction sector deal is just one of four to have been agreed, so it’s reassuring to know that our industry is at the forefront of the government agenda.

Changes for 2018

In 2017 we made some steps toward reforming the Grants Scheme, so that it’s easily accessible by firms of all sizes and helps to support them to do the right training.  This spring, the new Grants Scheme will be rolled out alongside the new national skills register and training directory, automating funding for beneficiaries who undertake CITB-approved training.

As well as improving access to funding for firms, we’ll be moving towards a commissioning approach to help employers develop programmes that will make a difference in areas such as innovation, careers, and influencing education and training provision.

We need to work together to grow construction apprenticeships, and to focus on getting the 36 apprenticeship standards we’ve been supporting fully signed off through a transparent prioritisation exercise.

So far, there are only six that are ready to go and CITB will work with the Institute for Apprenticeships to get the remaining standards over the line and agree a better way of doing this in the future. In addition, we have put together a new group that will set the strategy for delivering the apprenticeships our industry needs.

Furthermore, we will be bringing industry together with the government to develop a model for T-levels that’s right for construction, with a particular focus on getting the work placements element right.

Last year, CITB pledged to adapt its governance so that the structure and purpose accurately reflect and represent our modern industry. By spring, we will have a new Chair and additional SME representation on our Board, followed by the introduction of new national committees for England, Scotland and Wales – a really effective shareholder-style body of senior industry figures to lead our organisation.

And of course, I’m talking with colleagues and listening to employees’ ideas on how they can contribute to CITB’s Vision 2020.

Following this conversation, the details of what our future organisation will look like and the implementation plan will be confirmed.

However, let me assure you, CITB will be the responsive, effective and accountable body the industry has called for.

Comments

Regarding grant payments for Plant Operations. Why are some levy payers financially penalised when their option for plant operator training and testing is NPORS as opposed to CPCS?

Mick Norton, 13 January 2018

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