CITB restructure plans slammed by union as "hammer blow" for construction

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has unveiled plans for a new “streamlined” service which will likely result in reductions to its staff and relocation of its head office.

The news comes as CITB published its new strategy for the next three years entitled ‘Vision 2020: The Future CITB‘. The paper was released after the training body conducted one of its largest ever industry consultation exercises and says the next few years will see CITB become more “agile and forward-thinking”. The plans could see the head offices being moved from Bircham Newton in Norfolk and inevitably lead to large job losses. The body is set to reveal the number of jobs losses in January.

Sarah Beale, chief executive of CITB, said: “Construction needs to modernise and CITB is no exception. We accept the challenges laid down by industry and government and we will deliver a future-fit training body by adapting and updating our business model. Some really tough decisions could be made under these proposals but I’m confident in our commitment to becoming a more representative, accountable and reliable ‘levy in, skills out’ organisation. We now have a clearly defined path, and we see a bright future for a modern, engaged CITB.”

The CITB has said it will aim to “do fewer things but do them better”. This includes proposals to exit direct delivery of training through the National Construction College and cease services such as administering the card schemes. The announcement follows a government review of the CITB which found there to be heavy criticism of how it currently operates. However, the plans have been criticised by construction industry union Unite.

The union’s national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “These plans are a hammer blow for the construction industry and for the workers at the CITB. Thousands of construction workers owe their careers and their livelihoods to the unique training they have received at Bircham Newton. There are grave doubts whether any private provider could or would provide the same level of training at the same cost, which is currently provided at this unique facility. Construction is already facing a skills crisis and it is quite impossible to see how the CITB’s decision to end its role in providing training is not going to simply make a bad situation worse.”

Meanwhile, the Conservative MP for West Norfolk, Sir Henry Bellingham, has criticised the CITB’s leadership and vowed to do all in his power to block its plans to move headquarters. Speaking to industry Construction News, Bellingham said that he was determined to stop the headquarters move and would use his political connections in attempting to do so.

“What the CITB have completely miscalculated is that they’re not a private business. They are an arm’s-length government body who are empowered by parliament to raise the levy. So they can’t take those decisions in political isolation. I’m determined to get it stopped,” Bellingham said.

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