Sep 26 2017
John Henry Group has been working with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to help develop skills sets within our business. We decided to speak to CITB’S Jan Rejek to understand more about CITB and how it’s helping businesses in the UK.
Jan, thanks for your time Some people may not know about the CITB. Can you give us an overview of the CITB and its mission?
The CITB is a government led body that has the backing of the industry to help raise overall skill levels to support the creation of a thriving, prosperous construction sector. We do this by focusing our attention in three key areas. Promoting construction careers and encouraging new entrants into construction. Overseeing the development of standards and qualifications that are relevant and fit-for-purpose. Raising the awareness and uptake of training and development to increase the competence levels of company workforces.
How does it function and what would its role be for the industry as a partner?
CITB has statutory powers to collect a levy from registered companies that have a direct workforce wage bill of over £80k per annum and/or employ CIS subcontractors fromwhom tax is deducted (http://www.citb.co.uk/levy/ ). This money is used to support those employers that choose to train their employees in the form of grants or funding. Many registered firms do not have a wage bill of £80k but they can still access CITB grant/funding support. (http://www.citb.co.uk/grant/ http://www.citb.co.uk/funding/ )Our headquarters are in Bircham Newton (Norfolk) with regional staff working either in offices or as mobile workers. Part of our UK workforce is organised into Local PartnershipTeams, made up of Advisors, Local and Partnership Managers. These teams are focused on engaging with all types of construction employers and other stakeholders to help them raise the skill levels in the local construction industry. The emphasis on partnership is important. We want to work with companies to assess their skills needs and enable them toinvest in their workforces as a means to improving business performance.
These teams are focused on engaging with all types of construction employers and other stakeholders to help them raise the skill levels in the local construction industry
So, what’s your role?
I am the CITB Advisor for the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP area. I talk to construction companies (large, medium and small) who are either registered with CITB or wish to be. In fulfilling my role, I provide companies with information, advice and guidance about available support (financial and knowledge) from CITB and the wider business community. The aim is to enable them to use this support to improve their business prospects by providing their employees with opportunities to develop with relevant qualifications and skills.
How has CITB been working with John Henry Group?
I have been working with HSEQ and HR at John Henry Group to enable access CITB’s products and services and help John Henry Group grow as a company and enhance the potential of itssupply chain. Some of opportunities we have discussed are: the government’s Apprenticeship Levy and CITB’s supporting Enhancement Package, and CITB grants/funding including those in support of apprenticeships and a company-wide training plan.
What value could CITB bring to more organisations?
CITB is interested in engaging with any organisations that have a stake in the successful future of the construction industry through the advancement of the skills agenda. Major contractors: They take the risk in winning large projects. We help them by supporting them with grants, funding, training and development opportunities, and key initiatives (e.g. Skills Academies, Open Doors) to increase the skill levels or recruitment of their direct and supply chain workforces. SMEs: Micro, small and medium size companies are the life-blood of the construction industry. They are a key element in supporting larger projects and taking on new entrants or apprentices into the industry. It is a real challenge engaging with SMEs, because they are busy people, usually without office-based staff to take enquiries. They are either working, looking for new opportunities or dealing with other more pressing issues that directly affect their businesses. Contractors registered with CITB and those that would like to be: We support them with grants, funding, training and development options, recruitment, and general information, advice and guidance. Other Stakeholders: We work with them to find ways of collaborating on projects that have positive outcomes for skills in construction.
We help them by supporting them with grants, funding, training and development opportunities, and key initiatives (e.g. Skills Academies, Open Doors) to increase the skill levels or recruitment of their direct and supply chain workforces
Which organisations is it working with?
As well as construction firms, CITB works nationally with numerous organisations which have a mutual interest in the success of the construction sector. These include specialist federations/associations, construction training groups, government bodies (LEPs, NAS, DWP/JSP, local authorities), colleges and schools, local training providers, recruitment agencies as well as specific social enterprises and charities. In the Cambridge and Peterborough area we are working with the following stakeholders: LEP, local JSP offices, Form the Future, The Skill Service, Cambridge CC & Youthoria, Colleges, Schools, Social Enterprises and Charities (e.g. Groundwork, Youthbuild UK, Pathway).
What do you think of the current skills gap in the UK contractor recruitment marketplace?
The construction industry is facing a real crisis in the fight to improve our skill base and attract new talent. There are a number of well documented factors contributing to this crisis. Following the downturn in the UK economy in 2008, many skilled individuals left the sector to seek employment in other, more secure fields. When the economy gradually improved, they did not return to construction in the same numbers. In the next 10 years many skilled construction professionals will be retiring and will not be replaced in the same numbers with suitably skilled individuals.
Construction is competing with other sectors for new talent. In Cambridge, where approximately 50% of the workforce is university educated or equivalent, other industries (e.g. research and development, bio-technology, life sciences, agri-technology, wireless technology & communications) are often viewed as more attractive options to potential new entrants, their parents and influencers. Construction output in the East of England is projected to grow at a modest annual average rate of 1% between 2017 and 2021 (CSN data). Occupations most in demand will be electricians, painters and decorators, wood trades and interior fitters, civil engineers, and other construction professionals and technical staff. The outcome of Brexit is still uncertain but employers say the potential lack of access to migrant labour will impact on their ability to be flexible and fill skill gaps at short notice (recent CITB research).
The construction industry is facing a real crisis in the fight to improve our skill base and attract new talent
How could the skills gap be bridged – does CITB play a part in this?
To overcome the skills crisis, all stakeholders need to engage with each other to collaborate and create an environment and working model in which construction is viewed as an attractive career path, with secure employment, financial rewards and opportunities to develop in different directions. CITB is playing its part. We are working with employers and other stakeholders in the following ways to increase the skill levels in construction. Training and Development: engaging with employers to increase relevant training in their workforces and encourage the recruitment of new entrants or apprentices. Skills should be viewed as an investment in the company and thereby help achieve better performance. The supporting CITB grants and funding provide a financial incentive.
Careers: engaging with schools, colleges and other agencies to promote construction (via the GoConstruct website www.goconstruct.org ) as an attractive career option. Providing a matching service to enable individuals to connect with employers to experience construction first hand via work experience placements, site visits and mentoring opportunities. We are also encouraging employers to get more involved in careers with our Construction Ambassador scheme (https://www.goconstruct.org/information-for-employers/construction-ambassadors/ ) or offering opportunities for new entrants to experience construction in the workplace.
John Henry Group would like to thank the CITB and Jan Rejek for working with us to produce this article.