21st July Journal Column

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

The industry’s skills shortage has always been something that has concerned me, so I’m always happy to hear of initiatives or training aimed at upskilling employees or training new recruits with the skills the industry needs.

This year, through the Structured and Flexible Funds, Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has £20 million to invest in projects to; reduce skills gaps and shortages, increase access to the right training, increase the appeal of working in the industry and increase the added value per employee.

Within that, £3 million is available through the CITB Skills and Training Fund (part of the Flexible Fund), introduced to help small and micro employers and specialist federations with their skills and training needs. The funds, available to levy registered companies, vary in value depending on the number of PAYE employees;

  • £5,000 for up to 49 staff
  • £7,500 for up to 74 staff
  • £10,000 for up to 99 staff

Up to £10,000 a year to pay for training for your employees if you are in-scope to CITB – that sounds like an opportunity you shouldn’t miss!

Since January 2016, 60 North East employers have had successful Skills and Training Fund applications, totalling over £277,500 with approximately 700 beneficiaries; 17 micro businesses, 31 SMEs and 4 large employers have all benefitted. We are the second most successful region for claims within this fund and are known for our commitment to training – an accolade we should all be proud of.

To increase application numbers, CITB have tried to make the Skills and Training Fund as simple to access. The form filling process has been reduced, there are some eligibility boxes to tick, a couple of sentences about why the training is required and some quotes from training organisations to evidence the amount of funding being requested – it really couldn’t be easier.

Employers can claim once per 12-month period. The first £5,000 is paid up front and the remainder paid upon completion. The fund covers most skills and training interventions that will help your business, not just construction specific training and skills. However, you can only apply once a year so it’s worth undergoing a complete Skills and Training Review for your workforce to maximise the value of your application.

McCarrick Construction from Chester le Street has experienced a trio of benefits since applying for the Skills and Training Fund. Applying for approximately £900 to upskill their plumber has enabled the firm to carry out gas installations for their housing projects rather than outsourcing this work. This;

·         will save the company £500 a year;

  • ensures McCarrick Construction has a wider range of expertise to offer clients;
  • has led to the company training an apprentice under the guidance of an experienced plumber.

Applications for this funding are open now until 20 November 2017. For more information, contact Mark David, Assistant Fund Manager, CITB on funding@citb.co.uk. More information is also available at www.citb.co.uk/funding.