Council leader calls for government support over CITB job threat

Official Launch of Phase 3 of the redeveloment of the National Construction College at Bircham Newton by Henry Bellingham MP and Nazir Huseimniya ENGANL00120130916151435
Official Launch of Phase 3 of the redeveloment of the National Construction College at Bircham Newton by Henry Bellingham MP and Nazir Huseimniya ENGANL00120130916151435
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A council leader has called for government support after a West Norfolk-based construction body announced major job cuts.

The Construction Industry Training Board announced it was axing its workforce from 1,400 to 950 by 2018, although it has not yet been decided how many will go at its headquarters in Bircham Newton, where 680 are employed.

George Nobbs, the leader of Norfolk County Council, said the centre could be hit by the government’s new apprenticeships levy – and pledged to do what he could to help.

He said: “I can’t blame the CITB for taking a commercial decision. It seems the apprenticeship levy and the existing CITB levy constitute a double whammy for the construction industry. A government policy intended to improve skills could end up hitting the facility that supports skills development in one area of the economy crying out for more qualified staff.”

Mr Nobbs said he would convene a meeting with business and education chiefs to deal with the challenges facing the centre. He will also write to Nick Boles, minister with responsibility for construction, to ask what support government can offer and how the skills gap can be bridged.

The CITB is seeking to cut costs, reduce its back-office and move services online in a bid to become more efficient and return more value to the industry, but has said the number of overall training places should not drop.

A spokeswoman said the apprenticeships levy would have an impact on its own existing levy, but that restructure planning had begun before it was announced.

She added: “There is still much detail yet to be announced about the new levy and following that we will be able to explore how the CITB one can work alongside it.

“However, we will seek a solution that is simple for employers and fair to companies of all sizes.”