The last 12 months has seen a big increase in funding for SME applicants; major policy achievements and parliamentary events; thought-provoking research and significant campaigns and awards.
In Scotland highlights included “Think Differently”, an innovative programme to help unemployed people with disabilities into work, while in Wales Estyn - Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales - reported that CITB learners “develop high levels of practical skills in the workplace”.
The year began with CITB Chairman James Wates joining an expert panel of business leaders to help the Government champion apprenticeships in all sectors of the economy.
January also saw our annual Construction Skills Network (CSN) report predict that the industry will expand by an average of 2.5% over the next five years. As with 2015’s report Wales was the area set to see the greatest growth, with a predicted increase of 7.1%. This was followed by the south-west (4.4%), London (3.5%), and the north-west (2.6%).
The following month we announced that an unprecedented number of small and micro firms had successful funding bids – of 48 bids from small and micro firms, 43 were approved.
CITB was also commended for our health and safety CDM Wizard app at the prestigious Construction Health and Safety Group (CHSG) Annual Awards in London.
The app, which is free to access has been downloaded over 50,000 times since its launch last year and has received rave reviews by people from across the industry.
CITB Wales’ ambitious manifesto for the Welsh Assembly elections, “Building Skills for the Future”, was launched in February.
Soon after a ground-breaking CITB-funded £6.5m Wales-wide agreement was signed on the Construction Wales Innovation Centre, a facility which will lead to the creation of construction training for 1,100 people per year.
Recruitment of Scottish construction apprentices reached a five year high in February, up 32% from 1,422 apprentices in 2011 to 1,876 in 2015 (figures showed a six-year high in England and Wales during 2016).
May saw CITB sign another major deal - to build the first scaffolding training centre in the North East of Scotland. The Aberdeen-based state-of-the-art facility will upskill the Scottish work-force, benefiting the construction and oil and gas industries.
In June Open Doors took place. This year’s campaign, supported by CITB and Build UK, was the biggest yet with more than 3,000 visitors attending 138 construction sites across England, Scotland and Wales.
Our report into the construction labour and skills demand for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon received prominent media coverage in Wales. August’s Estyn report praised CITB Wales’ training, stating that it “leads to them (apprentices) gaining and sustaining employment in construction”.
In July CITB named the successful projects that it will support in its latest round of Flexible and Structured funding.
One of the most noteworthy projects was £15,000 of funding to Liverpool-based roofers Lacy Roofing. Lacy will train five members of staff to fly drones to the Civil Aviation Authority standard as part of a “Robots for Roofing” project, the first of its kind to receive CITB funding.
Uncovering fraud is an important part of our work. In October a Luton man was jailed for 18 months and recommended for deportation for illegally working in the UK and falsely obtaining construction skills certification cards, following a CITB investigation.
A number of awards and important announcements took place in the latter half of this year. The GoConstruct website, which we launched just over a year ago, scooped the User Experience and Design award at the Masters of Marketing Awards in London.
Sophie Turner, an apprentice stonemason from the Orkney Islands, was named CITB Apprentice of the Year. The awards continued in November when ten construction apprentices were named the best in the United Kingdom at the SkillBuild 2016 final.
CITB Scotland led the way in November with two big announcements and a major parliamentary event at Holyrood. The new £900,000 programme, “Think Differently”, was announced. CITB and Homes for Scotland also launched a new £250,000 fund to train non-trade employees.
November also saw the Department of Education approve a CITB plan to support employers to develop the construction industry’s new Apprenticeship Standards, which will replace existing Frameworks.
A parliamentary reception and Home Building Skills Partnership (HBSP) event was held in Westminster in November and featured speeches from Ruth Cadbury MP and HBSP Chair John Tutte.
Speaking at the event, Ms. Cadbury said: “We can't address the housing crisis without addressing the skills shortage so this partnership is absolutely timely.” John Tutte said: “What will our success look like? A bigger and more diverse workforce.” (For information on our partnership with the Home Builders Federation, please click here).
A number of case studies which reflected our work with apprentices caught the media’s attention during 2016. These included the story of Ammanford-based Jessica Richards who, along with a number of CITB apprentices, has been using her new construction skills to build a maternity ward in Uganda.
We hope you’ve enjoyed looking back at some of our highlights from the last year. Here’s to more in 2017!