CITB in construction colleges U-turn


CITB has announced it is no longer planning to sell its construction colleges at Bircham Newton in Norfolk and Inchinnan in Renfrewshire.

The decision comes after three years of the organisation’s Vision 2020 reforms.

CITB said a key commitment was to ensure employers would continue to have training provision that was not readily available in the wider training market and it has not been possible to find suitable buyers for all the training businesses, particularly for specialist trades.

CITB added that it has had active discussions with potential buyers of these businesses for the last two years but Covid-19 has ‘reshaped’ the economic landscape and resulted in potential new owners being reluctant to proceed to purchase. Subsequently, CITB has decided to retain NCC East (Bircham Newton) and NCC Scotland (Inchinnan), though discussions with an alternative training provider for NCC South (Erith) will continue.

Peter Lauener, chair of CITB’s board, said, “In 2017 the Government and construction industry were clear that reform of CITB had to be delivered. We committed to delivering that change while making sure that industry did not lose training capacity, especially in specialist areas, in cases where it was not possible to find a new training provider.

“The Vision 2020 reforms, and other changes made in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, have successfully realigned our business to make us better able to support employers investing in skills. CITB operates colleges which provide vital and valued training where we have not been able to find suitable buyers that could continue to deliver the scope of high quality training the industry needs. The continuing uncertainty is damaging for employers who need to be sure they can get their staff trained, as well as for CITB colleagues who have supported their customers and learners throughout.

“The right course of action to support industry now is to provide stability and assurance. The board has therefore decided to retain NCC East and NCC Scotland. This decision gives employers and CITB colleagues confidence and clarity and enables us to plan for the future, having realised the core ambitions of reform. We will of course keep these businesses under close review as we do for every aspect of our operation and this might lead in due course to alterations in our approach to NCC but we have no plans at present to return to market.”

Unite, the construction union, has welcomed the announcement. Unite regional co-ordinating officer Mark Robinson said, “The decision to retain the national construction colleges is excellent news for the workers employed by the CITB but also for the whole construction industry, who rely on the unique specialised training that only the construction colleges provide. This announcement should secure the future of the national construction colleges for many years.”