Unite, the UK’s largest union, has warned that the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) restructuring plans are mired in confusion and the organisation is guilty of failing to properly consult the industry on its most controversial plans.
Last week the CITB released a business plan which revealed that the organisation’s headcount will be slashed from the current level of 1,370 to just 484 people by 2020, through redundancies and outsourcing.
CITB chief executive Sarah Beale, said: “CITB has listened, and we have now taken action. This Business Plan sets out our ambitions for the next three years.
“It shows how CITB’s work across England, Scotland and Wales will modernise and repurpose. By 2020 we will be the ‘levy in, skills out’ body construction employers asked for, doing less, better, while being fully transparent and accountable.
“I am confident that this Business Plan will make a radical difference to CITB, enabling us to meet the skills needs of construction.”
The major factors in the job reduction are the organisation’s decision to move its headquarters from Bircham Newton in Norfolk, to outsource its office functions and to no longer directly provide its extensive array of unique specialist construction courses via its network of national construction colleges.
Unite has repeatedly warned that if the private sector does not choose to fill this void and provide this specialist training, vital skills will be lost from the construction industry and standards will plummet.
As part of the second consultation meeting between Unite and the CITB over the restructuring plans it was admitted that there had been no demand from industry for the CITB to withdraw from directly providing training, as the organisation had previously claimed, and there had been no formal consultation on the proposals. The decision around the change is driven by the CITB’s management and has been signed by its council and board.
The CITB has also had to extend the formal consultation period with employees on the proposed redundancies as many workers received the wrong information about their future. CITB chief executive Sarah Beales has ‘unreservedly apologised’ for these errors.
It has further emerged that while the CITB has decided it wishes to move its headquarter to Peterborough, its preferred option, no suitable building has yet been identified. While the organisation has confirmed it will employ 150 people at its new headquarters, it has admitted it has not yet decided what roles they will be undertaking.
Unite regional co-ordinating officer Mark Robinson said: “The confusion, chaos and lack of communication is deeply disturbing and unsettling for our members, many of whom face losing their jobs, or having to uproot their lives in order to move to the Peterborough area.
Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “The training is so specialist and complex it is highly unlikely that any private provider will be able or willing to take it on. Even if someone does it is likely to be at a cost that will make it extremely prohibitive for any worker to access this training.”