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Levy firmly endorsed on all sides of Houses of Parliament

Parliament has unanimously agreed that CITB-ConstructionSkills can continue to collect the levy from the construction industry. On 10 February, commitment for the levy was secured in the House of Lords following cross-party support for its continuation in the House of Commons ten days earlier.

In the Commons debate, Phil Hope MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education and Skills, summed-up:

“I stress that it continues to be the collective view of employers that training should be funded through a statutory levy system in order to secure a sufficient pool of skilled labour. I am pleased that there is no dispute about that in the Committee or in the industry.”

Credit was given for CITB-ConstructionSkills’ role in the Sector Skills Council partnership, in particular the creation of a pathfinder Sector Skills Agreement. The step change improvement in completion rates for apprenticeships through its Managing Agency and the piloting of innovative new approaches to apprenticeships with Programme Led Pathways were also recognised as valuable contributions to the industry.

The Industrial Training Act (ITA, 1982), states that the levy requires the annual backing of industry. Each year CITB-ConstructionSkills must demonstrate to Government that over half of employers eligible to pay it, support it. This is done by consulting with the main employer federations, all of which to date, have supported the levy.

However, over the last six years, the proportion of levy-paying employers who are members of the main employer federations has dropped from 58% to 50% and there is a danger that simply consulting with federations is no longer the best way to consult with the majority of employers in the industry.

Recent independent research shows that support for the levy amongst all employers is growing, with 72% of those that pay it, favouring it as the mechanism for funding industry training. Furthermore, 73% of respondents believe that the amount of training in the industry would worsen in the absence of a statutory training body such as CITB-ConstructionSkills.

Discussions are underway with the Department for Education and Skills to address the issue of how levy consensus is measured. The Minister for Skills referenced this at the levy debate in the House of Commons and CITB-ConstructionSkills will be working with the DfES to consider a range of options for demonstrating industry’s support for the levy in the future.

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