The changes are in response to a consultation with over 800 construction employers of all sizes, as well as industry federations, and will reduce the current flexible funding streams available from 40 to two. This reduction follows claims in the consultation that the current complex flexible funding system creates confusion and discourages firms from applying for funds.
From September 2015, the two new categories of flexible funding will be the Flexible fund for short-term funding designed for projects less than 18 months in duration, and the Structured fund, providing long-term funding to projects lasting longer than 18 months. The Flexible fund is intended to enable CITB to quickly respond to industry needs, while the organisation hopes the Structured fund will help employers to find long-term solutions to the industry’s major skills challenges.
The new funding streams will distribute £20m between them annually, in addition to £140m that CITB distributes via grant funding, which is not affected by the changes. A review of grant funding is ongoing with an announcement due in early 2016.
Steve Radley, director of policy and external affairs at CITB, said “Industry has told us that accessing CITB’s funding was overly complicated and bureaucratic. That’s why we are introducing a system that is clearer, more transparent and straightforward. We are also putting robust evaluation in place to ensure that the funding we distribute has clear benefits and that we only fund what works.
“But getting the funding right is only half of the solution. This new approach is underpinned by robust analysis on industry skills needs. It is only by understanding which skills will make the real difference that we can target funding appropriately and unlock construction’s full productivity.”
Throughout the process, CITB worked alongside an industry advisory group that helped to shape the proposals and ensure that they will deliver real improvements for employers.
Tim Peach, head of operations at Lend Lease who chaired the advisory group for the review, said: “These changes will make it easier for construction firms to invest in the training and development of our people, with funding that is simpler to access and better matches industry needs.
“Construction can only reach its growth potential by improving skills and training where it is needed most, and the new approach to flexible funding will help make that possible.”
CITB says the new funding approach is part of its ongoing commitment to being more proactive in identifying the industry’s skills needs and to taking targeted action to overcome them.