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We can now progress with plans to reform CITB

""It’s been a year since Mark Farmer published his report, Modernise or Die, followed  by the government’s announcing Paul Morrell would review the Industrial Training Boards.

Subsequently, the Apprenticeship Levy went live, amid concerns companies were being subjected to a ‘double whammy’ and questions about how that levy would work alongside CITB’s.

So it’s been an ‘interesting’ year for CITB, not least because the organisation has undertaken a huge Consensus consultation with industry.

With industry having confirmed CITB will continue for another three years, and the ITB Review published, we can progress with plans to reform CITB, for the whole industry’s benefit.

CITB has heard the calls for reform, and the independent review’s recommendations, particularly around accountability and impact, will be useful in guiding that change. I extend my thanks to Paul Morrell and team for their valuable work.

In the arena of governance, CITB will reform to simplify its structure and enable deeper partnerships with industry – clarifying expected outcomes, against which success will be measured.

Accountability is a two-way street, and communications with industry and government need to be open and honest. To that end, we have published CITB’s Agenda for Change which sets out 6 key objectives which will be delivered in 2018.

CITB will need to work closely with industry and partners such as the Construction Leadership Council, so that CITB’s evidence base can positively contribute to a construction sector deal.

The focus on impact is reflected in our move away from a ‘levy in, grant out’ mentality, towards ‘levy in, skills out’. The grant system has been simplified, but CITB will make changes to ensure that grants are used solely to fund training that provides impact.

A new operating model will be shared on 15 November, called The Future CITB – Vision 2020. In this new way of working, CITB will operate strategically, becoming smaller and more focused; serving as the conductor of the orchestra, not playing every instrument.

CITB will create a mixed economy approach to training, commissioning where possible, and intervening where the market cannot deliver. It will become more responsive. It will provide insight to help industry invest in its workforce, and CITB will become an investor, using construction’s contributions to leverage the training market.

CITB will seek to influence and coordinate efforts by government in the three nations, alongside employers, to provide a needs-driven policy framework that supports industry’s agenda.

Consensus showed that CITB needs to respond better to SMEs. This will be achieved through governance changes and adjustments to activities such as the grants scheme – ensuring better outcomes for SMEs.

CITB will also identify and invest in training needs inherent in modern construction methods.

So a massive change programme is ahead.

It’s also important to maintain stability at CITB. The three areas of careers, standards and qualifications, and training and development will remain. I’m pleased that the government has stated its support, and that CITB will be given the space it needs to deliver.

Rest assured the Board and management will make the decisions necessary to deliver the new model. This will enable CITB to support employers to develop the skills the country needs to produce a first-class built environment.

About the author

James Wates is the Chairman of CITB and has worked in the construction industry most of his life, starting on site as a schoolboy during holidays.

He joined Wates Construction as a management trainee, progressing through line management to running sites before taking on a general manager role in 1989. Since then he has progressed to Chairman of the main Group Board.

He was awarded the CBE in January 2012 for Services to Construction and the Charitable sector.

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