Economy

CITB NI: Supporting, training and upskilling

CITB NI continues with its commitment to supporting, training and upskilling the construction industry, writes Chief Executive Barry Neilson.

The Covid-19 Pandemic affected all sectors and construction was no different. Many companies lost contracts and work was delayed. It has been a difficult and challenging time. However, recent research conducted by Construction Skills Network (CSN) has, reassuringly, forecast gradual growth in the sector and more demand needed in the workforce. Skills will be a key driver of growth, performance and prosperity. Therefore, it is essential that the industry not only ensures it is skilled and ready to deliver but attracts, trains, and retains new talent.

Throughout the pandemic CITB NI focused on continuing to help and guide the construction industry and like every other industry, we had to be quick to adapt our communications to ensure we remained connected and supportive. We activated this through our Covid Hub, grants and training initiatives.

As we move forward, and plan for the future, our focus will be on the following:

Grants

Our grant scheme and training programmes are widely recognised within the industry. They range from £15 to up to £2,000, depending on the grant category and are not limited to just the construction trades. It also includes administration, supervision and management training. This year to date we have received grant claims to the value of £1.4 million, which is really encouraging that training is still strong within the sector. The training grant funds are easy to claim, with employers encouraged to claim online via the website.

Apprenticeships and new entrants to the sector

Construction apprenticeships are an important part of the career ladder and are beneficial to both the apprentice and the employer. During 2020, with funding from the Department for the Economy’s Apprenticeship Challenge fund, we launched a new scheme called Apprenticeship Connect (NI) — find, match, hire which aimed to help match construction employers and prospective craft apprentices.

Through our apprenticeship grants we have supported over 535 apprentices over the past five years. We also supported the Government Apprenticeship Recovery Package, which gives employers the chance to retain and recruit apprentices and help continue to protect and improve this talent pipeline to sustain the future of construction.

But it is not just about apprentices. Our sector needs new entrants at all levels of ability and operational level. We continue to focus on encouraging the next generation and exploring different routes for individuals to enter the construction sector.

Levy

Through legislation CITB NI raises a levy from the Northern Ireland construction industry. This helps to contribute to and support local training needs as well as fund a wide range of activities. Importantly, it contributes to the training and development of our workforce and new entrants, which is a huge benefit for the whole industry. It also supports the CITB NI grants scheme which includes our Mobile Training Unit, VET 360 training tool, scaffolding training as well as research, careers promotion and standards and qualifications.
Partnerships

Since 2010 CITB NI has provided funding in excess of £3 million for working in partnership directly with industry bodies through our Training in Partnership funding. More than 70 projects have benefited from this financial support which has included mental health training, NVQ Level 2 Roof Slating and Tiling Apprenticeship Scheme, Not Just for Boys programme, and NVQ Level 4 in Construction Site Supervision.

The future

CITB NI will continue to focus on our strategic theme ‘to benefit the Industry through our training hub, quality standards, partnership work, commercial opportunities and embracing innovation’. We will continue to provide the support and services needed to ensure local businesses are equipped with all the right skills. We will also continue to work with contractors, professional and trade bodies to support training and skills development for the overall benefit of the industry in the years ahead.

For further information on CITB NI including training grants and apprenticeship support visit www.citbni.org.uk, like us on Facebook facebook.com/CITBNorthernIreland or follow on Twitter @CITBNI, Instagram @CITB1 and LinkedIn.

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