Balfour chief threatens to cut training board’s funds in skills crisis
ONE of Britain’s biggest construction companies has launched a scathing attack on the industry’s main training body and is threatening to cut off financial support in a row over its effectiveness.
Balfour Beatty chief executive Leo Quinn said he is poised to protest against an annual levy the company pays to fund the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).
If Mr Quinn’s rebellion is supported by more than half of the industry in a triennial vote the body could be scrapped. He accused the CITB of failing to address the shortage of skilled workers that is becoming an urgent problem in construction.
Mr Quinn said: “By 2020, the industry needs another million workers – assuming we lose none of our current European employees, post Brexit.
“To close that gap – to attract that number of people into the industry and train them properly – requires every part of the system to be pulling its weight. The skills shortage shows it [the CITB] hasn’t been doing its job for some time.”
The body currently gets £200m a year from a levy on construction companies, who pay 0.35pc of their wage bill into a fund set up in the 1960s. The CITB is responsible for training in construction and setting standards.
Every three years the companies paying the levy vote on continuing their support. Mr Quinn raised concerns about how the CITB operates. A government-led review of training boards had been due to report before the triennial vote but its findings were delayed by the election.
Early conclusions of the report indicated that government backed continuing training boards but without detail, Mr Quinn said he was being forced to “vote in the dark”. The Balfour chief said while the CITB had “a budget comparable to a good-sized public company it has a fundamental governance weakness. Public companies are subject to rigorous corporate governance, the CITB is not closely accountable to the industry it exists to serve”.
Steve Radley, CITB policy director hit back, saying it was working hard to tackle the skills shortage.
“There is more detail to be fleshed out on how we will change but there is a huge amount of information out about what we plan to do,” he said.
“We are reducing the services we provide to reflect the interests of our members and become the industry body they want.”
Leo Quinn, Balfour Beatty chief, has accused the CITB of failing to address the sector’s skilled workers’ shortage