CITB workers launch petition to save ‘vital’ skills training

Workers at the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) have launched a petition to put pressure on its new chairman to reverse plans to outsource the organisation’s construction training and oppose plans to outsource so called ‘back office functions’.

Members of the Unite union are collecting signatures for the petition at the organisation’s Bircham Newtown headquarters in north Norfolk, Erith (south London), Thurmaston (East Midlands), Inchinnan (Renfrewshire) and Bridgend (Wales).

As part of a major restructuring, the CITB plans to sell the National Training College at Bircham Newton as well as its other training colleges and stop delivering training directly. Under the plan, employee head counts will fall from 1,370 to 484 by 2020.

The CITB’s new chairman Peter Lauener, was previously the head of the Education and Skills Funding Agency has highlighted the need for an increase in construction apprenticeships. However, the CITB’s plans will decrease training provision, especially in specialist areas.

The CITB is intending to sell its National Training College at Bircham Newton as well as its other training colleges and to outsource its specialist training. The plan to stop directly providing training is a major part of the CITB’s business plan which will see its employee head counts reduce from 1,370 to 484 by 2020.

No private provider has yet been identified to take over CITB’s training provisions, if no one comes forward then these courses are set to close and vital skills could be lost from the industry.

Unite is also encouraging the industry to write directly to the CITB opposing their proposals. Last month it emerged that the CITB had not consulted industry before announcing that they were no longer going to provide training directly and there had been no demand from the construction industry for direct provision to cease.

The petition will dovetail with a separate petition being organised by the Reverend Peter Cook the vicar for Docking and Bircham, to “save the CITB”.

Unite regional co-ordinating officer, Mark Robinson, said: “The decision to sell off the CITB’s high quality training facilities is a disservice to the industry and the employers who the CITB are supposed to represent.

“The new CITB chairman Peter Lauener is a self-declared champion of apprentices, so it is essential that the plans for his organisation to end specialist apprentice training is reversed.

“Unite will be collecting names on our petition to underline the depth of feeling against the CITB’s plans to ensure that these plans to sell-off these vital services are properly examined and reversed.

“The additional proposal of closing a number of key offices including its head office in Bircham Newton, Norfolk and others around the country to centralise functions could be severely damaging not only to the hundreds of people facing redundancy or a long trip to work everyday but also to industry having to work with less experienced staff.

“It is essential that the construction industry makes its voice heard and directly opposes the CITB’s plans to end direct training which has no benefit for them.”

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