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Tue May 18 2021

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Industry groups press for SME voice in picking CITB chair

11 Dec 17 Trade associations representing small and medium sized construction firms have voiced their disapproval of the selection process for the next chair of the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

They are upset that the selection panel that will choose James Wates’ successor as CITB chairman includes no SME representatives and have written to the relevant government minister to complain.

The National Federation of Builders, the Federation of Master Builders, the Scottish Building Federation and the National Association of Shopfitters have written to Anne Milton MP, the skills and apprenticeships minister, to express disappointment at the panel selected to interview candidates to chair the CITB.

The CITB only survived its recent consensus vote under the promise of reform, including greater representation for SME, but it has now appeared to fail at the first hurdle, they say.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders, said: “SMEs and regional contractors conduct two-thirds of the industry’s training. It is almost inconceivable they do not have a greater say in how their levy is spent. I would ask the minister to consider how strong a message she would be sending with a more representative panel.”

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Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “SMEs make up 98% of the construction sector and provide the training ground for most apprentices. The failure to appoint a representative from the SME sector to help oversee the appointment of the new CITB chair is therefore astonishing and out of touch with what the industry needs and has been calling for in recent years.”

Vaughan Hart, chief executive of the Scottish Building Federation, said: “It is imperative, that those who employ and train directly should have a majority voice in the shaping of the levy and grant system for the future. Moreover, as a result of the burden now placed upon many SMEs to lead the way in apprenticeship engagement, their opinion and foresight must be represented proportionately.”

Robert Hudson, chief executive of the National Association of Shopfitters, said: “85% of the work done in the UK construction industry is carried out by SMEs and specialist contractors who employ people, who train people and most importantly employ apprentices and yet once again our views are not worthy of consideration.”

The panel selection was not actually a CITB decision but the four associations feel that having their voice ignored bodes ill for the prospect of change.

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