Bircham Newton-based training board ‘broken’, says builders’ group

National Construction College at Bircham Newton, which is also home to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)'s headquarters.
National Construction College at Bircham Newton, which is also home to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)'s headquarters.

A board which oversees training in the construction industry, which has its headquarters in Bircham Newton, has been told it has one “last chance” to improve.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), which works with construction companies to improve skills and is sponsored by the Department for Education, has been described as “broken” by the Federation for Master Builders (FMB).

Although the FMB announced its support for the CITB this week, they said “members are dissatisfied with the performance of CITB and do not want the FMB’s support for the continuation of the levy to be interpreted as support for the status quo”.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “FMB members are divided regarding the future of CITB – some want to see it continue and others want to see it abolished but all agree that it is not currently working for the industry’s smaller firms.

“The CITB is broken and we must all pitch in to ensure we fix it.”

Mr Berry said the CITB board should increase its small- or medium-sized enterprise (SME) representation, as it currently contains “only one representative from an SME construction firm”.

The grant scheme also needs simplifying, Mr Berry added. He described the process as “too complicated and bureaucratic”.

“If we want SMEs to train more apprentices and upskill their workforce, all forms of CITB grant funding pots need to be as easy to access as the new CITB Flexible Fund,” Mr Berry said.

“The FMB will be holding the CITB to account over the coming months and years and if we do not see positive change within the organisation, and if the organisation does not achieve better outcomes, the FMB will recommend to its members that we remove our support during the next consenus process in three years’ time.”

A spokesman for the CITB said the board was not responding to requests for comment at this time, but are due to make an announcement in the next couple of weeks.

The MP for North West Norfolk, Sir Henry Bellingham, said it was a “time of change” for CITB but added it was “absolutely essential” that it continues to have its headquarters at Bircham Newton.

He said: “The bottom line is CITB is a big employer in West Norfolk. These are quality, well-paid, skilled jobs, so they are incredibly valuable. CITB is an important partner in the local economy.”