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08 Dec 2016

A damning independent survey claims the CITB has “little or no impact on its primary mission of encouraging the provision of training” among smaller construction companies.

Research conducted by YouGov on behalf of Hudson Contract showed only 9% of SMEs said they receive CITB funding for training employees.

And of that 9%, only half receive the full cost of training.

Hudson said SMEs pay twice as much levy as larger firms yet have less power to influence the CITB.

The survey also found that 60% of levy payers provide training without CITB grant funding.

Ian Anfield, Managing Director of Hudson Contract said: “Despite spending millions on websites, roadshows and PR, the CITB’s influence on training provision is negligible.

“In reality, the CITB is a hapless bystander while SMEs get on with the day job.

“More and more stakeholders are questioning whether there is a need for a levy and grant system at all. This needs an answer.”

Further results from the research show that:

  • More than half of the firms interviewed have either no knowledge or no opinion of the CITB levy’s effectiveness in ensuring training and skills development.
  • 71% say the possibility of a CITB grant to cover training does not influence decisions to send workers on a training course; and a mere 2% say a CITB grant is the main reason for training.
  • 38% of firms would continue training even without the possibility of a levy grant.

Anfield said analysis of the CITB’s own accounts show that large businesses receive a 92% return on their levy payment, whereas small and micro sized businesses receive 61% and 52% respectively.

Of those who say that they find it difficult to claim back grants, 55% say that the reason for this is that they do not have an administrator to support them, while 50% say the process is too complicated.

Anfield added: “Training is absolutely vital if the construction industry is to thrive and deliver our country’s much needed infrastructure and house building programmes.

“As the backbone of the industry, SMEs play a crucial role in this.

“Yet not only is the CITB offering scant support to SMEs, it is actually putting obstacles in their way by collecting a levy and passing most of it on to major contractors.

“Those with the narrowest shoulders bear the toughest burden. That is bad for business and bad for the industry.”

Tony Willson, Managing Director of training adviser Helmsman Services, said: “Any company that moans about not getting Grant only has itself to blame.

“It is not that large companies are getting proportionately more Grant than smaller ones, it is that they do a lot of training and have processes to ensure that claims are maximised.

“Although the Grant Scheme is complex, if a company wishes to ensure that it is receiving the maximum Grant for the training that it does, there are many ways of obtaining assistance to achieve this from CITB itself, Training Groups or companies such as ours.

“But in many cases, the companies can’t be bothered.”

YouGov independently questioned more than 500 construction companies during the research.