CITB Wales story. To read the UK press release please click here.
CITB has today announced its plan to help employers recover from the impact of Coronavirus, including a substantial reduction in Levy bills.
The Skills Stability Plan 2020-21 protects apprenticeships and provides direct funding to employers to adopt new ways of working needed in the wake of Covid-19.
Employers will continue to have a payment holiday on the Levy until September and then up to a full year to pay the 2020/21 levy. In addition, CITB will propose a 50% discount on the 2021/22 Levy rate. This means employers will pay 18 months’ Levy out of 24, making an overall saving of 25% across two years, providing help when it is most needed.
An employer with an average annual levy bill of £1,200 would normally pay £2,400 over 2020-22. Instead, they will pay nothing from April to August this year and then take advantage of spreading the costs – £100 per month up to February 2022, paying £1,800 overall.
These changes will see CITB’s forecast Levy income drop by £166m across two financial years. Despite this large drop in income, the Skills Stability Plan will protect apprenticeships, direct funding to employers and the Grants Scheme. CITB is also cutting costs and using its reserves to support employers’ skills needs.
CITB will work with other industry partners to support workers who have lost their jobs or seen their apprenticeship disrupted,matching them with a new employer, including through exploring a talent retention scheme. This will build on the support already provided to help appprentices complete their programmes through up-front grant payments to current year 2 and 3 apprentices, training materials being made available online and support from Apprenticeship Officers to allow learning to continue remotely.
The plan has also prioritised direct funding for employers through the Skills and Training Funds, with £8m earmarked for small and micro businesses, £3.5m for medium-sized businesses, with a £3m Leadership and Management Fund for large firms. This will help employers train to adapt to the new working environment and update the skills of their workforce.
CITB Chief Executive Sarah Beale said: “This represents a radical plan of action that balances the need for a reduction in the Levy at this time, alongside vital investment in the skills needed by employers now and in the future.
“It is the result of hundreds of conversations with employers across the length and breadth of Britain and I’m confident it meets the sector’s immediate needs. We are committed to making the Levy work hard to protect apprenticeships and support hard-pressed employers as they equip themselves for the challenges and opportunities ahead.”
CITB will now seek the views of industry employers and federations about the development of a new strategic plan, covering 2021-23, with the plan expected to be published in September.
Sarah Beale continued: “We have spoken to employers and federations and most have suggested that they want us to focus full-time on helping the industry meet the challenges posed by Covid. We have confirmed with the Department for Education that we will not run the usual Consensus process and instead we will speak to employers and industry groups to seek their views on our plans for next year.
“We will continue to be responsive and collaborative, working closely with the sector and Government to return the industry to growth. We will listen to industry and respond to its priorities and give every employer the confidence that we wish to understand and learn from their concerns and ambitions.”
Welsh Government Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates said: “The construction sector is absolutely vital to the Welsh economy with 13,500 construction companies based in Wales supporting almost 100,000 jobs. Construction also makes up 6% of our GVA. The sector continues to be one of the largest recruiters of apprentices in Wales providing important opportunities for individuals to start their career in the industry.
“The interventions CITB have made, including the levy reduction and advanced grant payments for apprentices, are very welcome at an incredibly difficult and challenging financial time, particularly for SMEs.
“As the construction sector moves into a recovery phase, it’s crucial that any delay in training and recruitment is minimised. A widening skills gap would affect the ability of the Welsh construction industry to upskill, modernise and prepare for new qualifications to help us meet our future ambitions.
“We will continue to work with CITB and the construction sector to help deliver the skilled workforce the sector needs.”
Anthony Rees, Regional Manager, Cyfle Building Skills said: "Cyfle Building Skills has close working links with CITB Wales - our Shared Apprenticeship Scheme (launched in 2013) is the largest of its kind in the UK. We welcome CITB's announcement on the levy and their commitment to protect apprenticeships as outlined in their Skills Stability Plan.
"Like many organisations COVID-19 presented us with numerous challenges. The quick decisions CITB made on advanced grant payments for apprentices was a great help to us, providing certainty and financial help when it was most needed. The construction sector will have an important role in Wales' economic recovery from COVID-19; Cyfle Building Skills looks forward to working with CITB and offering great work experience and apprentice opportunities in the months and years ahead."