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Bid to keep jobs at CITB training centre to be discussed at meeting

PUBLISHED: 16:19 23 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:53 23 January 2018

Sarah Beale, chief executive of the Construction Industry Training Board, based at Bircham Newton. Picture: Jeff Russell Photography.

Sarah Beale, chief executive of the Construction Industry Training Board, based at Bircham Newton. Picture: Jeff Russell Photography.

Jeff Russell Photography

Industry and local government leaders will meet bosses at the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) next month to discuss the future of its training centre.

The meeting will focus on how to keep as many jobs as possible at the National Construction College at Bircham Newton in west Norfolk, from which the CITB is proposing to move its head office to Peterborough.

Guests at the roundtable on February 9 will include Chris Starkie, chief executive of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Saul Humphrey, director at Morgan Sindall and chairman of the LEP’s Building Growth board, and North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham.

Talks will centre upon how training provision can continue at the site – possibly delivered by another provider – and ensure as many jobs as possible are retained at a facility which has been recognised as world-class.

The CITB, which trains workers for the construction industry, announced in November plans to overhaul how it operates in response to criticism from firms who felt it did not offer value for money. The plans included outsourcing back-office services, stop delivering training directly and move its 575-staff head office to a city with better infrastructure.

College leaders, along with representatives from Norfolk County Council and Jobcentre Plus will also join the meeting with CITB’s chief executive Sarah Beale.

Ms Beale said: “The industry has been absolutely clear – CITB must reform – but we also care very much about the communities and individuals affected by our change programme.

She added: “The site has huge potential and, working together, we stand the best chance of maximising its benefit for both West Norfolk and the construction industry.”

Mr Starkie said the CITB’s announcement had been a “major blow” to staff and the supply chain, adding: “The collaborative approach now being taken is a very good sign, and we look forward to working with all partners to provide a solution that best suits workers, the local economy and the construction industry.”

Brian Long, leader of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council, said: “We appreciate the reasoning behind CITB’s proposed move away from direct training, which is why we’re keen to maximise the potential opportunities for new partners at the site.

“We’re pleased to be hosting this session with the aim of creating a Vision 2020 Taskforce to ensure that all ideas and solutions are geared towards a positive outcome for the future of the site.”

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