The CITB Needs our Support to Become the Training Body We Need
In the words of the song: ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.’ that’s a situation we could have been facing had we not voted to continue the CITB levy.
Osborne was one of the organisations that came out strongly and publicly in favour of retaining the CITB. This wasn’t because we believe it is perfect; clearly it needs reform and CITB themselves recognise this.
Osborne CEO Andy Steele reminded industry colleagues that CITB is the only training body of its kind in the UK and that we shouldn’t take it for granted. “We must recognise the important work they do for the industry and not let it be invisible.”
Rather than opposing the CITB, the wider industry can and should do more to help them meet their challenging remit. The skills challenges we face are huge, as is the task of reforming training and qualifications. No individual company can solve the problem for themselves, so we need to work together. Trying to do this without a national coordinating body would be much more difficult.
You could argue that, if we didn’t already have a national training body, we’d be looking to create one given the scale of the challenges we face.
With broader cultural issues such as inclusion and diversity there is considerable value in having common approaches and programmes across the industry. We couldn’t achieve this without national coordination and support. The Fairness, Inclusion and Respect programme is a real success story and CITB has been instrumental in making this happen.
Certainly, the CITB needs reforming to deliver the results that the industry is looking for. And that process has already started. The Board has responded positively to the challenge with its Agenda for Change. It is committed to becoming more relevant, representative and responsive to industry’s needs, from SMEs to major contractors. Governance bodies will also adapt to reflect and represent the modern construction industry. The message to the industry is: fully engage with this reform process.
The change process will make CITB more focused on identifying and addressing skills shortages, identifying the training needs for a modern workforce (including offsite construction), and attracting more people into the industry. To allow it to focus on these priorities it will no longer run the National Construction College or administer CSCS and CPCS registration, and will outsource several other functions.
Some in the industry such as Leo Quinn Chief Executive of Balfour Beatty took a little more convincing. The fact that he was prepared to listen, take on board the reassurances and then change his mind says a lot about our industry. Imagine a medical consultant, economist or politician having the courage to say publicly that they’d changed their mind.
We believe that it is openness to change that will ultimately deliver the reforms and the training body we need. Osborne is fully committed to working with the CITB to make that change happen.