Scottish building organisation request change at training body

A Scottish building trade organisation is among a group to have asked the UK skills minister to reconsider the composition of the panel selecting the next chair of the industry's main training body, in order to help SMEs.

Vaughan Hart of the Scottish Building Federation

The Scottish Building Federation (SBF), along with the National Federation of Builders (NFB), the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), and the National Association of Shopfitters (NAS), has written to skills and apprenticeships minister Anne Milton to express “disappointment” at the panel chosen to interview candidates for the next chair of the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

SBF chief executive Vaughan Hart said those who hire and train directly “should have a majority voice in the shaping of the levy and grant system for the future”. He added: “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.”

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The NFB said SMEs, including regional contractors, comprise nearly 100 per cent of the construction industry but are not represented at the top level of decision-making.

The trade body added that the industry has asked the CITB to reform after the latter recently “emerged from a contentious vote on its survival for a further three years [and] received its mandate on a promise of reform. Part of its change programme was to include greater SME representation”.

NFB chief executive Richard Beresford 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.”

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said not appointing a representative from the SME sector to help supervise the appointment is “astonishing and out of touch with what the industry needs and has been calling for in recent years”.

Also commenting was NAS chief executive Robert Hudson. He stated that 85 per cent of the work done in the UK construction industry is 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 organisations called for the pace of change at the CITB to increase, and acknowledged that the panel selection was not a CITB decision.