The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) recently announced that it would increase grants for employers to help them cover the costs of training and qualifications for their employees.
This decision comes as a response to the impending changes to the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card scheme, which has caused concern among employers and workers alike.
The grants at more than £100m overall will now be worth up to £10,000 per year for firms who meet the eligibility criteria. This is a significant increase from the previous maximum grant of £5,000 per year. The grants can be used to help construction workers develop their skills and competencies and the cost of training courses, apprenticeships, and other forms of skills development.
CSCS Industry Accreditation (IA) cards issued from 1st Jan 2020 will expire on 31st December 2024 and cannot be renewed. This is in line with the Construction Leadership Council's (CLC) decision to ensure there is a fully trained and competent workforce in place during challenging times. There are over 60,000 workers in construction that hold one of these cards. What each individual needs to do next depends on their occupation and qualifications they may already hold.
To soften the fall-out of these changes, the CITB has announced that it will increase the grants available to employers to help cover the costs of training and qualifications for their employees. The grants will be available for a range of training and qualifications, including NVQs, apprenticeships, and other recognised qualifications. CITB has raised more than £1.75bn in levies from the construction industry over the last decade yet there still is a skills crisis. This begs the question: is this hard-earned money being spent wisely?
There has been criticism in the past about questionable spending at the industry quango and shows the levy and grant scheme consistently works against the interests of small and medium-sized enterprises and favours the major contractors. 8 out of 10 employers that arrange and pay for training for which they receive no CITB funding, demonstrating the industry delivers skills development without quango support. But almost 9 out of 10 are forced to pay the training levy regardless of whether they receive any benefit.
The increase in grants will provide some much-needed relief to employers, who may have been struggling to cover the costs of training and qualifications for their workers. This will also help to ensure that workers are adequately trained and qualified to carry out their jobs safely and to a high standard.
Tim Balcon CITB’s chief executive said:
“During this challenging time for the economy, the finances of businesses and workers are under pressure. Our increased grant rates address rising costs and support employers to secure high quality training to upskill their workforce.
This uplift in grants is our response to feedback from employers, who told us increased costs are making it more challenging to invest in the training they need. We know investing in training can bring competitive advantage helping businesses to retain and attract more workers and to ensure they have an up skilled workforce to win new work.
We’ve listened to their concerns and responded by doubling our grant rates for short courses and increasing our grant rates for specific short qualifications.“
The CSCS card scheme is a vital part of the construction industry, as it ensures that workers on construction sites have the appropriate qualifications and training for the job they are undertaking. The scheme is currently managed by CITB and is widely recognised as an essential part of ensuring safety and quality on construction sites.
The new rules will mean that workers will need to have a higher level of training and qualifications to obtain a CSCS card. This has caused some employers to worry about the costs of training and the impact this could have on their business.
The CITB has also stated that it will work closely with employers to help them understand the new rules and regulations around the CSCS card scheme, and to ensure that they have the support they need to comply with the new requirements. This will include providing advice and guidance on training and qualifications, as well as information on the grants available.
The increased grants are part of a wider package of measures aimed at supporting the construction industry through the transition away from the CSCS card scheme. Other measures include the development of a new training scheme, which will be launched in 2023, and the provision of support and advice for firms who need help navigating the new system.