The history of CITB, from its set-up in 1964, key milestones, to present day and looking ahead to the future.
The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) was set up on 21 July 1964 to build a safe, professional and fully qualified construction industry.
It was one of 21 industrial training boards established in the wake of the Industrial Training Act 1964, primarily to address concerns about UK skills shortages.
CITB, like the other industrial training boards, received special powers to collect a levy from private firms within its sector, which it could redistribute in grants, funds and subsidies for training according to standards that it also set. In this way, employers shared the cost of training more equitably, while the workforce acquired recognised transferable skills.
Over the years, exactly how CITB collects and manages this funding has evolved. The Industrial Training Act 1982, for example, radically altered the system, replacing most industrial training boards with voluntary employer-led bodies that no longer had statutory levy-raising powers.
In 1989, however, construction employers made a strong case that CITB should continue with the levy system. They said that the sector ’s reliance on a highly mobile workforce, use of small-firm subcontractors and short-term labour made the levy-grant system essential for delivering quality training. The government agreed.
As a result, CITB is one of the few remaining industrial training boards with statutory levy-raising powers. But we never take this for granted – every three years we have to show government that we still have the industry behind us, in a process called Consensus.
As an executive non-departmental public body, we are in charge of our budget and activities, but sponsored by a government department and accountable to ministers and ultimately Parliament.
For many years, the Department of Trade and Industry sponsored us, followed by its successors: the Department for Education and Skills; the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills; and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. In 2016, the Department for Education became our sponsor.
During this time we’ve undergone a name change or two ourselves, most notably in 2003, when the Department for Education and Skills instructed us to change to CITB-ConstructionSkills, in acknowledgement of our partnership with the Sector Skills Council.
For a time, we were also known as ConstructionSkills, or just CSkills, particularly for the parts of our organisation delivering training. In 2013, we decided to stick to our original name, CITB, as it was still the most widely recognised by industry.
We opened our first training centre at Bircham Newton, Norfolk, in 1966, at an old Royal Air Force airfield. The large aircraft hangars were especially useful for teaching trades such as scaffolding.
We then opened other training centres in Glasgow, Birmingham, London, Derbyshire and Kent, which together formed the National Construction College. We also offered training in 40 other locations nationwide.
In 2017, following a government review, we decided to make our operations simpler and more streamlined so that, in years ahead, we are in a better position to provide the skills that industry needs. For example, after more than 50 years at Bircham Newton, we’re moving our headquarters to Peterborough.
It’s a big change for us, but we see a bright future ahead for a modern, engaged CITB that will continue to help the construction industry to build a better Britain .