CITB’s accounts reveal practical support for employers and apprentices amid pandemic
The grants scheme from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) supported 13,700 employers with funding during the 12-month period ending 31 March 2021 to train their workforce through the pandemic and lockdowns, according to its annual report.
During this time CITB focused on practical support for employers, such as providing online COVID-19 site operating procedures, checklists and risk assessments which were downloaded 38,000 times. A free COVID-19 eCourse was also completed by 22,000 people.
To aid cashflow for employers, CITB suspended Levy collection for five months during 2020 and halved the amount due for 2021-22. It also funded a project with the Lighthouse Club charity that helped to train mental health first aiders who in turn supported more than 6,000 people.
The Skills and Training Fund supported almost 1,000 SME employers at this unprecedented time. This helped SMEs receive more from the Levy than they put in – contributing less than 70% while receiving over 73% back in grants and funding.
Apprenticeships grants supported over 23,000 apprentices and nearly 9,000 employers during 2020-21, while 2,800 apprentices benefited from travel and subsistence funding in rural or hard-to-reach areas. CITB enabled apprenticeship attendance grants to be paid in advance to employers and contacted over 11,000 apprentices to provide support through the pandemic – just 2.5% ended up being made redundant, with half of those going on to start a new construction apprenticeship.
Evan Thomas, managing director of Probuild Llandudno Ltd, said: “CITB have been a huge support for our company during very unsettling times due to the pandemic. Our company cannot thank them enough for their actions.”
Stuart Greenhouse, director of Huntingdon-based Chestnut Compliance and Plant Ltd, said: “CITB have been a huge help to small firms like mine. It’s safe to say that without their help we would have struggled to fund the much-needed training courses that have helped us no end.”
Lee Marley, founder of Lee Marley Brickwork Ltd, said: “In 2020 the decision was made to start taking on brickwork apprentices in in Scotland. The company contacted CITB to help facilitate this. The representatives were very helpful in coordinating the sign-up process of apprentices and contacting the colleges. Currently Lee Marley Brickwork Ltd have taken on 14 apprentices in Scotland and will continue to do so.”
Tim Balcon, CITB Chief Executive, said: “Our accounts for 2020-21 show how it was no ordinary year for the sector. To protect skills CITB acted quickly to provide assistance, doing everything we could to protect apprenticeships as well as enabling employers to continue training amid very difficult and constantly changing circumstances.
“From Levy receipts, 84p in every pound was invested in the last financial year into employer funding and industry-wide initiatives to address skills requirements. As construction recovers from the pandemic, CITB’s support for skills and training will remain at the heart of helping to solve the current, emerging and future challenges that the industry faces.”
The accounts show that the DfE-funded Construction Skills Fund (CSF) hubs, often run by local councils on major development sites, provided free training and site experience to just under 6,000 local people in 2020-21, with almost 900 gaining long-term employment in the construction industry. CITB’s successor to CSF are Onsite Experience hubs, set to deliver over 8,500 onsite experiences, with at least 3,800 candidates achieving sustained employment by 2024.
CITB also funded organisations such as trade associations to deliver training to construction employer members, or Higher Education facilities, such as the University of Wales Trinity St David delivering the new CITB-funded scaffolding training centres in Swansea and Cardiff.