Wales National Roof Training Group Left Reeling as CITB Pulls Funding
THE WALES NATIONAL ROOF TRAINING GROUP has been left fighting for its survival as the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) withdrew its funding for roofing apprenticeship training.
In a shock move, CITB informed the Wales National Roof Training Group (WNRTG) by email on 10th February that Specialist Applied-Skills Programme (SAP) funding for roofing apprenticeship training in South Wales would no longer be available to the industry’s training group. The group has offered professional roofing training across Wales for the past 14 years.
CITB advised roofing companies on 7th March that a local college, Coleg Y Cymoedd will now be offering roof training from September, if they get enough numbers to run a course via a private training provider, not WNRTG.
The college currently offers an introduction to a construction ‘foundation’ year and if sufficient students choose a roofing option at the end of the year, it plans to offer roofing apprenticeships.
Two weeks ago – before the CITB funding decision was made public – CITB contacted the roof training group asking for details of its membership, which were not provided
At an urgent meeting, called by the training group and attended by its members on Wednesday 8th March, Wales CITB’s Mark Whitby said that the funding has been withdrawn as part of a restructuring of apprenticeships across Wales.
However, Mark Whitby explained that new apprenticeship provision is not yet in place, but will be hopefully in September – leaving uncertainty and a gap of at least six months. In the meantime, Welsh roofing companies are advised to access ‘NICHE’ funding from the Welsh government to send trainees to England for roofing training in Walsall or Warrington.
Members of the WNRTG – who are all CITB levy paying companies – were stunned that the group was not fully included in the process or informed prior to the decision being made. Instead, they learned of the move in a generic email sent out to Welsh industry. The email said there would be a new roofing provider for the apprentice programme potentially starting at the college in September.
The WNRTG runs a dedicated roof training centre in Caerphilly. It has 60 roofing contractor members across Wales employing around 300 roofers and working with a further approximate 300 subcontractor roofers.
Group Training Officer, Lesley Hughes secured specialist, high-quality roofing apprenticeship training under the SAP funding and delivered at the Caerphilly roofing training centre.
Lesley said, “If the centre loses this additional SAP funding it will have a detrimental effect as WNRTG may need to close the training centre. This will stop any other specific roof training taking place in South Wales, such as for flat roofing, manufacture training, lead welding and bossing etc.”
In the past four years, WNRTG has trained a total of 111 apprentice roofers in South Wales to qualify in roof Slating and Tiling.
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In a move that seemingly ignores the infrastructure the roofing sector has, itself, put in place to deliver high-quality, cost-effective training, the new CITB funding arrangement offers an uncertain and non-specialist substitute.
Additionally, the WNRTG (in common with all the roof training groups) does not only offer training to its members. It also advises roofing companies in the region on sourcing discounted mandatory/short courses, upskilling, funding applications, recruitment and promotion of roofing as a career.
WNRTG member, Marco Camilleri, director of Camilleri Roofing said, “The decision is a blow to us in South Wales. It’s been taken prematurely in my opinion as there is quite a lot of ambiguity and uncertainty in what will replace the SAP funding. We don’t understand why CITB can’t continue funding apprenticeship training through the roof training group and the two provisions can co-exist.”
Responding to the threat to the training group’s survival Marco added, “Losing the training group would be disastrous to us because it does so much work for us across the board. It’s not just training if offers, it arranges all the placements, sources and books our short course, helps us with funding applications and advises us. Our costs would hugely increase because the group negotiates discounts for us – we’d massively struggle.”
Now WNRTG members are hoping that CITB Wales will reconsider its decision and enable them to continue offering the Slating and Tiling SAP apprenticeship training in the South Wales region.
CITB has been approached for comment.
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