The Building Industry Training Board is somewhat similar to the BBC: Most people generally appreciate its existence, but few are completely happy with the service – which they have to pay for, whether or not they consume it. CITB’s role has mutated over the years. It was created by law passed by Parliament in 1964 to provide training in the construction industry – traditional crafts such as carpentry and brickwork, and operating machinery such as cranes and excavators. Her then home was Bircham Newton, a former Royal Air Force base in Norfolk. In the early part of the twenty-first century, it became, for a brief period, a CITB Building Skills with a broader mandate to encourage employers to participate in training, provide job market insights about future skills needs and develop standards and qualifications for the sector. It ran a network of National Building Colleges across the country, Bircham Newton only one of them. This article was first published in the December / January 2021 issue of The Construction Index. Register online. He has been instrumental in establishing, and subsequently operating, the Building Skills Certification System (CSCS) and the Construction Plant Competency Plan (CPCS). There was a true ancient struggle about getting experienced construction workers and crane drivers back to school and proving themselves to some knowing nothing with the holster, but the ultimate goal of creating a construction industry with “professional” qualifications was a vision – a vision that was widely supported. Then just when it looked like it was getting somewhere, CITB decided it didn’t want to be in the business of managing card charts, or even providing training at all, and decided to pull out of the industry front end. All of this is defined in a new business plan, called Vision 2020, published in November 2017 in response to a regular three-year consultation with the industry. Securing industry support is essential to the CITB before the Secretary of State authorizes it to collect the tax. The 2017 process confirmed that the industry wanted the tax to continue but there was widespread dissatisfaction with CITB’s performance and calls for major reforms. When announcing the change of direction in 2017, CEO Sarah Bell, who assumed the top position only at the start of that year, said that restructuring the organization would create “a body of strategic, forward-looking, and resilient skills used by the industry looking”. In fact, the CITB was now simply in place to collect and redistribute the tax money, as a commissioner, and to approve the courses. “Building needs to be modernized and CITB is no exception. We accept the challenges set by industry and government, and we will provide a suitable training body for the future by adapting and modernizing our business model.” “By 2020, we will be the ‘tax off the skills’ that bodybuilding employers demand, work less, do better, while being completely transparent and accountable. Over the ensuing three years, back office jobs have been outsourced. The mission was to supply the construction industry in Great Britain with a trained workforce. Today, CITB says: “Our mission is to help the construction industry attract talent and support skills development, to build a better Britain.” Since the sale Cskills Awards to NOCN (formerly National Open College Network), CITB no longer awards degrees or qualifications. In December 2017, it gave notice to CSCS owners that after 20 years it no longer wanted to manage its card scheme. In 2018, it sold CPCS to NOCN , And effectively privatized it and removed any claim to moral superiority that CPCS had previously claimed on the privately owned Lantra plant operator card schemes and NPORS.With effectively liberalizing the plant operator card schemes, plans were in place for a new enterprise to represent the construction and machinery sector. To sort the entire business of operator training, licensing and certification once and for all. The Plant Sector Representative Organization (PSRO) was created in 2019 by a coalition of industry associations and associations to set standards and define the competencies required for the various cards. This is still in the works. The only card scheme that CITB still oversees is health and safety testing – more than 500,000 tests were taken in 2019 at 450 testing centers across the UK. The actual delivery is operated by Pearson Professional Centers, not CITB. In February 2019, Shared Services Connected Ltd (SSCL) acquired Human Resources, Finance, Procurement, Technology, Change (Corporate Performance), and apprenticeship processing jobs at CITB, as well as some client operations. SSCL is a joint venture between the UK Cabinet Office and French IT consultant Sopra Steria. It also provides back office management for the Environment Agency and for Labor and Pensions Administration. The Bircham Newton facility in Norfolk – officially the Eastern National Building College – is being taken over by West Suffolk College. This deal, which was agreed upon in February 2020, has been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic but is expected to expire in the coming months. In November 2020, a deal was agreed to buy Walsall National College of Building (NCC) in Kings Norton, Birmingham. Discussions are ongoing with potential bidders for the two other CITB companies in Ireith, Kent, and in Inchinan, Renfrewshire. (Despite the sell-off, all national building colleges remain open for business and make reservations.) The Covid-19 pandemic affected CITB as much as the rest of the industry as it stepped onto the board to support the industry. After announcing the first national shutdown, it announced a suspension of fee collection and halving of 2021 payments – representing a significant drop of £ 242.1 million in tax income over three years. This meant that more cuts had to be made. From 2021 to 22, CITB’s annual operating costs will be 20% lower than in 2020-2021. 2020 was supposed to be the year of the triennial tax review. The consensus consultation process started but was curtailed – questionnaires came out but follow-up interviews were canceled to find meaning behind the responses. Instead, emergency powers were invoked and the secretary of state went ahead and renewed the tax order regardless. With other priorities on their mind, only 420 of those employers actually participated in the survey answered the questionnaire in 2020 (0.5% of those registered with CITB – the response is never overwhelming) compared to more than 1,200 during a previous consultation in 2017. A separate survey conducted by a provider found Payroll Services Hudson Contract found that 87% of respondents want to eliminate direct funding for CITB. Managing Director Ian Anfield said: “It is amazingly clear from our survey that the vast majority of SMEs in construction see no benefit from CITB nor get any value from the tax and grant scheme. The fact that most companies offer their training activities regardless About CITB stresses quango’s insignificance in the modern economy. In response, the CITB issued a reminder that Hudson’s contract had recently lost a lawsuit attempting to evade a £ 27.4 million tax payment that was deemed to be owed to the CITB. Income reduction was pivotal in the new 2021-25 Strategic Plan that CITB published in September. There have been bleak assumptions about the British economic recovery. She added that many employers lack confidence in spending money on training, at least in the short term. It anticipated limited public employment for construction through the end of 2021, half of normal levels in 2022-23 and still only 80% of normal levels in 2025. Given this unexpected landscape, CITB decided to focus on fewer priorities. Over the next two years, the focus will be on the joiners – the experienced workers who have lost their jobs – and their return to the industry. Only after that will the focus return to the new arrivals as the building in need of fresh blood begins again. Vision 2020 architect and CEO, Sarah Bell, left CITB in September 2021 after 16 years with the organization. Her successor is unlikely to get the job without strict adherence to the current strategy. The big challenge for the next CEO, regardless of passing the following consensus process, is to develop a new competency framework that will apply to 10 priority occupations by 2022 and to be filled in the remaining 46 construction-related occupations by 2024. These new frameworks represent a transformation. In focus from standards to competence to support the long-term goal of “modernizing” the building training and qualification system. For CITB, the Training Update means not focusing too much on what you know and what you can do, but on how you behave. As the strategy document states: “For many years, the industry has prioritized skills and technical knowledge and has underestimated the role-behavior in driving quality, safety, culture and productivity.” Despite this initiative, many consider the CITB – not just the people in Hudson’s decade – to be increasingly irrelevant to building industry training. The CITB tax represents only 10% of the total annual £ 2.7 billion in construction spending on training and development. And training appears to be increasingly irrelevant to CITB. As it strives to maintain its relevance and take on a new role with ever-decreasing budgets, today CITB’s focus is on “helping companies define their training needs” by conducting research and promoting building as a profession. But she also wants to go beyond training. “We will work to mobilize support for key industry-wide initiatives that help improve the realities of work in construction, including improving work-life balance and making them more welcoming to groups that are not currently represented,” says the strategy document, adding: “We believe that helping change the reality of work.” In construction it is the best long-term approach to making construction an industry that skilled workers want to join and stay in. ” Perhaps worthy things. But is that what CITB should be for? Is this where the industry wants its taxes to go? Could trade associations not do this just as effectively? This article was first published in the December / January 2021 issue of The Construction Index. Register online. Do you have a story? Email [email protected].