Sale of awarding body ‘could be breakthrough in keeping jobs at CITB’

Sir Henry Bellingham speaking at the official opening of the NOCN Norfolk Offices at The King's Lynn

Sir Henry Bellingham speaking at the official opening of the NOCN Norfolk Offices at The King's Lynn Innovation Centre. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk MP has hailed 'a significant victory' in the ongoing battle to save jobs put at risk by the proposed departure of the Construction Industry Training Board from the region.

Certification body Cskills, which was owned by the CITB, has opened its new King's Lynn office after being bought by Sheffield group NOCN.

The sale is the first move as the CITB aims to streamline itself in a major restructure which will see it slash 800 jobs in three years.

North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham hailed the move, which retained 17 jobs in Norfolk, and said, while it is only a fraction of the total number of roles at the site, it could be a sign of things to come.

Sir Henry said: 'This is a significant victory. A lot of people thought this certificate awarding centre might go out of Norfolk or been closed down but it has been taken on by a very impressive business and they are delighted with how it is going. It shows there is a very good chance some of those parts of CITB that are in Norfolk could remain here.'

Sir Henry added CITB's accreditation card programme, the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS), was also being marketed for sale and he was hopeful NOCN or another buyer could keep it in the county.

CITB is currently in consultation with workers over moving its head office to Peterborough, having revealed its plans in November. As part of proposals the industry body is planning to outsource office functions such as HR and IT.

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While Sir Henry said the commitment of NOCN to keep Cskills in the area was a win his aim was to keep the CITB's headquarters at Bircham Newton and to retain the training provision there.

He said: 'The training contract is the biggest divestment and they are currently looking at a number of training providers. Getting that right will be key and getting it right means staying at Bircham Newton at keeping morale high.

'If CITB senior management remain in Bircham Newton they can oversee the training provision.'

NOCN Group agreed a deal for Cskills last August, with staff continuing to operate at the CITB base until April. Managing director Graham Hasting-Evans said transport links as well as the experience of local staff had played a part in keeping the business in the region.