Director of Policy Steve Radley reflects on the new Construction Skills Fund and how the industry can work to make sure it has a lasting impact.
With a budget of £22 million, the Construction Skills Fund is designed to bring training to construction sites, allowing learners to apply their knowledge in a real-world environment.
The scheme will run for 18 months and be administered by CITB on behalf of the Department for Education. We have been talking with Government about this for some time, relaying the calls for a larger, better skilled workforce from our industry and the need to find better ways to provide high quality work experience. Indeed our own evidence tells us that over 150,000 construction jobs are set to be created in the next five years. The opportunities are there, it’s now about getting people engaged in the industry.
What are the goals of the Fund?
The fund aims to support 20 on-site training hubs in England and increase numbers of work experience placements for people looking to join the industry, with the goal of making approximately 13,000 people site ready. It will also create entry pathways for people who are currently unemployed, or career switchers.
The training hubs will be designed to be mobile in order to be easily relocated to other developments in the region. Once established, these hubs will deliver multiple skills outputs to both new entrants and the existing workforce.
Due to the size of our employer network, CITB can cast a wide net to reach as many interested organisations as possible. Indeed, as the skills sector body for the construction industry, CITB has a wealth of experience facilitating similar projects, and we are excited to be part of this. Since reforming how we fund projects, moving to a commissioned based approach that delivers a greater impact in meeting our industry’s skills, there has been a real appetite to invest in training at all levels.
Over the past two years, we have awarded £32.9 million worth of Flexible and Structured funding to a range of projects. We have also managed two Employer Ownership of Skills projects, totaling £10 million and National Skills Academy projects worth £10 million.
We can draw on our current funding model and experience of working directly with employers to generate proposals, make funding decisions, develop funding agreements and manage the performance of programmes.
Take a look at our website for details of how to get involved. We are currently taking expressions of interest from organisations and we have set up a collaboration space to bring partners together to potentially add value to future funding bids.
The funding could support the establishment of the on-site training hub facilities, a skills coordinator for each project, and the cost of training delivery and qualifications not currently supported by public funding. The funding will only support on-site training provision, and access to live construction projects is essential to qualify.
Interested organisations can also get in touch with our grants team directly by emailing ConstructionSkillsFund@citb.co.uk.
The deadline for applications is fast approaching - 10am, Monday 17 September 2018. This is an exciting opportunity to expand work experience and placement opportunities, support training opportunities for the long term unemployed and inspire new entrants from other industries.
Steve Radley is CITB's Policy Director.