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Union welcomes U-turn on plans to sell college at Bircham Newton

Construction union, Unite, has welcomed the U-turn on plans to sell the CITB construction college at Bircham Newton to a new education provider.

The decision, which was announced yesterday means the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) will continue to provide the unique specialist construction training available, while preserving 150 jobs at the site.

Unite regional co-ordinating officer Mark Robinson said: “The decision to retain the national construction colleges is excellent news for the workers employed by the CITB but also for the whole construction industry, who rely on the unique specialised training that only the construction colleges provide.

American University Students on a course at the Constructionarium, based at CITB..Students working on the Gerkin Project on site. (45416547)
American University Students on a course at the Constructionarium, based at CITB..Students working on the Gerkin Project on site. (45416547)

“This announcement should secure the future of the national construction colleges for many years."

CITB have also decided to retain another site in Paisley, Scotland, protecting a further 75 jobs, many of the jobs saved are held by Unite members.

The decision not to sell the two national construction colleges and to continue to provide the specialist courses they offer is a big departure from the CITB’s controversial 2020 Vision programme.

Mr Robinson said: “Selling the colleges was a major plank of the CITB’s 2020 Vision and this has completely failed. Our members have had their lives put on hold for three and a half years, not knowing who their employer would be, or if they even would have a job.

“The CITB’s board has invested heavily in a new head office in Peterborough, resulting in hundreds of workers being made redundant. Outsourced providers have contributed to massive failings in the payroll system, leaving hundreds of CITB employees owing large amounts of money and causing huge distress."

"The reputational damage that the CITB has suffered across the entire construction industry has been immense," he added, “Unite warned at the outset that the CITB’s restructure plans were ill thought out and unrealistic, the union takes little satisfaction in those fears being entirely correct.

"The CITB’s board need to fundamentally rethink how it treats its staff and its relationship with industry. The decision on the construction colleges must be the start of that process.

"Investment is urgently needed in products, infrastructure and most importantly its employees, in order to rebuild its reputation with its staff and industry alike.”

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