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The importance of construction training post Covid-19

CITB NI are focused on skills and training, we work with contractors, professional and trade bodies to support training initiatives and skills development for the overall benefit of the industry.

Training is important at every stage of business but never has it been as important than during the global pandemic, which has had a major impact on every sector of our economy and society. As we progress through the recovery stage, we all must review, adapt, and take the opportunity to embrace the lessons we have learnt from this crisis which will enable us to enhance and grow our industry.

Throughout the pandemic crisis CITB NI committed to continuing to provide additional support, advice and guidance to local construction employers in relation to levy and grant as well as ensuring training initiatives were accessible by moving them online. In April and May we paid out £143,000 in grants to industry including £108,000 (76 per cent) to support apprentices. Apprentices are vital to the construction industry as skills shortages and an aging workforce are putting the industry at risk. We need to continue to protect and improve this talent pipeline to help sustain the future of construction. In addition, £17,000 was paid out as part of Training in Partnership grants to industry federations and employer bodies to provide training to the industry.

Prior to Covid-19 we were delivering mental health training to the construction industry via our Mobile Training Unit. We refocused some of this training to reflect the current situation and worked with industry professionals Inspire to deliver mental health support webinars and a confidential telephone helpline service.

The industry federations have worked hard to provide best practice guidelines on construction getting back to work and onsite. We encourage employers to take account of these guidelines and government advice which will support and guide our industry back to work safely and productively.

As for the economy, many companies have either lost, or had delayed, contracts, jobs and income and the phased return to work will affect the speed of completion of contracts and work. Prior to Covid-19 our research from the Construction Skills Network had predicted a 0.8 per cent growth for Northern Ireland with 2,500 new recruits needed during the five-year forecast period, with the key focus on the construction of social housing and repair work. This will most likely change and as the statisticians work on the models and forecasts, we will plan and help develop the necessary and appropriate skills training required which will help ensure the industry is future proof.

Looking towards the future, CITB NI will continue to focus on providing the support and services needed to ensure local businesses are equipped with all the right skills. We will take our lead from the industry on the priorities, content and method of delivery. We, along with the rest of the industry, are looking at the measures we have had to put in place as a result of Covid-19. Some of these measures suggest that we consider new ways of developing our workforce and I imagine these will enhance rather than replace what has gone before. Through a mix of grant funding and direct training interventions CITB NI will help develop the workforce to meet client needs and grow their business.

Registered employers are encouraged to make use of the grant scheme to help improve skills within their workforce. The CITB NI training grant scheme offers direct grants to registered employers to support a wide range of training and qualifications for employees working in Northern Ireland. The training grant funds are easy to claim. Employers are encouraged to claim online via the website.

For further information on what we can do to help you and your construction training, log on to www.citbni.org.uk, like us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/CITBNorthernIreland or follow the discussion on Twitter @CITBNI, Instagram @CITB1 and LinkedIn.

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