For the last 20 years I’ve been running research projects in a variety of different areas like cancer services, genetics, public attitudes and innovative methods that encourage people to engage in policy-making. So I know that when money is invested in a project, the outcomes and impact should be at the forefront of the project plan.
CITB has funded projects for over 50 years and invested heavily in a wide range of different initiatives to support the sector. In 2015, with a view to improve the way we invest in the industry, CITB engaged in an extensive consultation with employers. In response we have developed a new funding model including the Flexible and Structured funds.
Our new funding model is designed to match projects with the industry’s skills priorities bringing benefit to the industry both now and in the future. There have been eight CITB funding windows in the last two years and we have approved over 1200 projects valued at more than £32 million.
One of our key investment principles is that we focus on impact. That’s why on 6th December 2017 we are holding our first Funding Impact Conference. This is a showcase event promoting the impact and sharing the success of CITB funding. We will be streaming the event live on Facebook and sharing details from the day on Twitter.
Sharing in the 'bigger picture' of funding
Traditionally, many of our customers have just engaged with CITB only to deliver some skills or training, applying for funding on an ad hoc basis. My colleagues and I are working with our customers so that we achieve a shared ‘bigger picture’ and get them thinking more about the medium to long term and the benefits it offers such as staff retention. We’ve had some great examples of customers who have done a little bit of training having thought about the sustainability of what they are doing, and tried to align their projects with the industry’s long-term strategic priorities.
In my previous jobs, I observed a lot of organisations step away from the companies they fund after they complete their first funded project. This short-sighted approach means they lose the chance to monitor the medium to long-term outcomes of funding across a number of years and therefore miss out on the chance to truly understand its impact.
We all make mistakes, personally and in business, and I think it’s important when working in funding to talk about failure in order to learn from it. An organisation adapts, evolves and improves when it learns from mistakes. We fund well over a thousand projects now and some are teaching us valuable lessons that will help CITB funding get better and better delivering the skills that are needed to meet the long-term challenges facing the industry – whether that is home-building, Brexit or anything else.
With the government increasing the housing target to 300,000 new homes a year, billions of pounds worth of work in the pipeline and uncertainty around the migrant workforce, we need to squeeze the most value out of every pound we put in to the industry.
To find out more about CITB Funding please visit www.citb.co.uk/funding
About the author
Dr Rachel Iredale is the Evaluation Manager at CITB