Council leader calls for government support after Norfolk-based CITB job cuts

Picture by Mike Page.
Picture shows: Bircham Newtont construction industry training centre from the air.

Picture by Mike Page. Picture shows: Bircham Newtont construction industry training centre from the air.

©Coypright Mike Page, All Rights Reserved Before any use is made of this picture, including dispaly, publication, broadcast, syn

The leader of Norfolk County Council is to write to the government calling for support after a Norfolk-based construction body announced it would cut hundreds of jobs.

George Nobbs said the government’s new apprenticeships levy was a “double whammy” for the construction industry, and warned that housebuilding targets would remain out of reach unless a skills shortage was addressed.

The Construction Industry Training Board has announced a major restructure which will see its workforce fall from 1,400 to 950 by 2018, though it has not yet been decided how many will go at its Bircham Newton headquarters, where 680 people are employed.

Mr Nobbs said he and Saul Humphrey, chair New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership’s Building Growth group, would convene a meeting with business and education chiefs to deal with the challenges facing the centre.

“I can’t blame the Construction Industry Training Board for taking a commercial decision. It seems the apprenticeship levy and the existing CITB levy constitute a double whammy for the construction industry,” he said.

“This really is the law of unintended consequences as a government policy intended to improve skills could end up hitting the facility that supports skills development in one area of the economy crying out for more qualified staff.”

Mr Nobbs will write to Nick Boles, minister with responsibility for construction, to ask what support government can offer and how the skills gap can be bridged.

The CITB is seeking to cut costs, reduce its back-office and move services online in a bid to become more efficient and return more value to the industry, but has said the number of overall training places should not drop.

A spokesman said the apprenticeships levy would have an impact on its own existing levy, but that restructure planning had begun before it was announced.

She added: “There is still much detail yet to be announced about the new levy and following that we will be able to explore how the CITB one can work alongside it.

“However, we will seek a solution that is simple for employers and fair to companies of all sizes.”

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