The ins and outs

With respect to CITB changes, it’s now all about ‘levy in, skills out’ and industry standards, says the CFA

Late last year the CITB announced ‘bold new plans’ following a positive consensus result, which was closely linked to promises of a more focused organisation and reduced levy. There was also a lot of discussion about a new ‘levy in, skills out’ grants system, and the CITB is now working on implementing its ‘Vision 2020: The Future CITB’ plan, which sets out its key objectives for meeting agreed industry challenges.

The CITB does a great job, despite the constant challenge of trying to ‘keep everyone happy all of the time’ often with conflicting demands from industry, government and other stakeholders, with this expectation clearly heightened when dealing with large levy payers, who quite reasonably expect a large amount of grant in return for a large amount of training.

A good example of the CITB trying to keep everyone happy in difficult circumstances is around the demise of Carillion, which we know impacted heavily on many flooring contractors in the supply chain.

But Carillion also had 1,400 apprentices who were effectively put out of work in January and within two weeks CITB had set up a project team, contacted 40,000 employers, received 850 job offers for the apprentices and set aside a £1.5m cash incentive programme for helping them complete their apprenticeships.

Clearly, it didn’t have this activity listed in its ‘bold new plans’ but it was nonetheless immediately expected by industry and government to step in and help, so its fantastic response to the situation shows why it was awarded an Outstanding Ofsted inspection result last year. (Note: If you can help a redundant apprentice, call the helpline on 0344 9944010.)

On the grants front the good news is that from 1 April the achievement grant for a floorlaying NVQ or SVQ will increase from between £400-600 and apprenticeship grants remain unchanged (in the short term), but for short duration training courses floorlaying businesses will see much change, including moving away from a grants scheme where employers freely selected any training provider, for any training, then claimed grants through a training plan.

The new system will most likely see an overall reduction in grants paid for short duration training courses, which will have to be approved (by industry representatives) as generic ‘standards’ and these standards can then only be delivered by a CITB ‘approved training organisation’ (ATO) - the good news being that Fita will be included on the list of approved training organisations.

This new standard approach is also starting to help solve some problems faced by the removal of the CSCS construction related occupations (CRO) card last year. For example, the matting and matwells CRO card was taken out of service in September 2017 and as a result, fitters were struggling to get onsite without a current skills-based CSCS card.

In order to provide a solution, the CITB, CSCS, CFA and Forbo Flooring (who have experience in running a rigid matting training course since 2002) have worked together to produce a generic industry training standard for this flooring occupation. This will allow fitters successfully passing the course (once launched later this year) to apply for a blue skilled worker CSCS card.

So, taking the above major changes into account, if you want to claim grants after April for short courses, ensure you check with CITB first that both the training and provider meet the new standards requirements.
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