The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has issued a response to fresh criticism over its effectiveness in curbing the apparent skills shortage.
Over the weekend, Leo Quinn - CEO of Balfour Beatty - voiced his concern to the Sunday Telegraph, arguing that Industry Training Boards needed the same accountability as the companies that paid their levies.
"Currently, the CITB occupies a pivotal role in providing all of us in the sector with the skilled workers we need," wrote Mr Quinn. "Bluntly, the present skills shortage shows it hasn’t been doing this for some time."
It's well established that the construction industry needs to attract one million more workers by 2020. To some, that's a conservative estimate - Brexit may whittle away our existing EU workforce and widen the skills shortage even more so. According to Leo Quinn, bridging that gap requires "every part of the system to be pulling its weight".
CITB has long been under the microscope, particularly with regard to its expenditure. The Industry Training Board raises £200M each year via its controversial Levy. Now, in light of the organisation's apparent lack of progress, Mr Quinn is calling for greater transparency as to how that money is spent.
"The Levy paid into the CITB – let alone its other income – provides it with a budget comparable to a good-sized public company," continued Mr Quinn. "But while Plcs are subject to rigorous corporate governance, CITB has a fundamental governance weakness: it is not closely and regularly accountable to the industry it exists to serve. "
Mr Quinn also called for more detail on CITB's current overhaul and assurances that the recommendations of Paul Morrell would be taken into account. Yesterday afternoon, CITB offered up its own response.
“We welcome Leo Quinn’s interest in CITB’s governance and performance," said Sarah Beale, CEO of CITB. "We agree that CITB needs to see through its reforms, and that the industry needs to be able to hold CITB more strongly to account. Reform of CITB has already started and full details of our complete reform plan will be shared in November, ensuring full alignment to the ITB review recommendations.
“Our biggest ever industry consultation held this spring suggests that a majority of firms, including the smaller employers that dominate our industry, broadly welcome CITB’s reforms. These include streamlining what we do to provide better value for levy payers, embracing the modernisation agenda to help all construction firms become more productive, and ensuring that standards, training, support for careers and our reformed grants scheme are in place to meet industry's key skill needs."
“We have also made it clear that we will work closely with our industry, with employers of all sizes and across Britain, to agree our objectives and to ensure that we are held to account in delivering them. We are confident that a reformed CITB, with active support and challenge from industry, will be well-placed to meet construction’s challenges ahead,” concluded Ms Beale.