Making training work
Since joining CITB I’ve conversed with stakeholders across the UK on training, skills and investment.
I’m pleased to say CITB’s new Business Plan reflects this collaborative work and the views expressed during Consensus ’21.
I’m genuinely excited about putting our plan into action as it marks a new era for CITB.
It outlines our three core challenges. It also shows where we will invest over £233m in British construction during 2022/23.
The plan has been publicised on our website and in trade publications so I won’t go into great detail on it here. However, it is important to reiterate CITB’s three core challenges and how they can be met.
- Responding to the skills demands
- Developing the capacity and capability of construction training provision
- Addressing future skills needs.
CITB won’t solve these issues alone, I must be clear on that from the outset. Collaboration with industry is key to delivering these aims.
In May I spoke at three conferences. The themes at the Construction Productivity Conference, BACH and EU Skills events were, broadly speaking, productivity, training and skills.
Everyone I spoke to shares one big goal - reducing construction’s skills gap. However, when it comes to training’s role in meeting that challenge, we need to better understand that stakeholders have different drivers.
The wants of Governments, colleges, private training providers and employers are different – not necessarily misaligned with the needs of industry – but different. We have to understand this better if we are to get the best out of our training infrastructure.
For example, the UK Government has a broader social value outcome from their skills policies which is why qualifications include English skills. Meanwhile, employers’ priority is to get workers in the door as soon as possible.
Colleges have a massive contribution to make in the construction sector, however, employers sometimes complain that students are not work-ready when they enter industry. Funding incentivises inclusion in education, regardless of the sector or course they are delivering.
In addition, a current and common problem across all aspects of training is finding competent trainers and assessors.
It’s time we made the effort to align the capability and capacity of GB’s training provision with industries, individuals and society’s needs. With this in mind, the most pressing question is: how we can help employers with their urgent skills needs?
The most essential element of training is understanding the demand. There are two issues to consider on training and skills demand: the short and long-term.
In the short-term construction employers want skilled workers who get the job done.
In the long-term, while employers say they need skills for net zero, digitalisation and modern methods of construction, they are not asking for them.
Both these issues are needed but the demand for training is for the short-term. The latter is needed, for sure, but the demand is miniscule.
It’s vital to get the balance between the short and long term right. Small businesses, for example, are understandably concerned with the here and now. Bigger businesses are better able to plan.
CITB’s job is to put resources in place to turbo-charge training. Let me give you an example of how this can be done well.
Stakeholders need a common understanding of the issues that need fixing and then align their efforts to solve them. This is how a sustainable skills system structure can be set up. To make it happen conversations, about putting the right training infrastructure in place, just ahead of demand, are needed.
Once again, the importance of determining demand is key. In the meantime, our Business Plan shows how CITB will make it easier for employers to access training while we develop out training infrastructure to meet the issues described here.
In 2022-23 CITB will invest £25.9m in direct training delivery. This will enable our National Construction Colleges to provide core skills training and at-risk skills.
We will also support over 300,000 Health Safety & Environment tests. Enhanced grant support for priority skills such as Drylining apprentices and rainscreen cladding achievements will be offered, too.
There’s a lot more in the Business Plan, which I haven’t covered here, so I hope you can look at it. I’m pleased it’s in place and encouraged by the feedback received. It’s now up to all of us to work together and get the jobs done.
If you would like to share your views on Tim’s blog, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.