CITB fails to sell Bircham Newton and other national training colleges

national construction college Bircham Newton CITB fails to sell Bircham Newton and other national training colleges

CITB has shelved plans to sell off the National Construction Colleges at Bircham Newton, Norfolk and Inchinnan, Glasgow after failing to find buyers.

CITB is to retain its remaining National Construction Colleges (NCC) but sale talks with a training provider will continue for Erith NCC in Kent, the training body confirmed today.

They did manage to agree on the sale of its Midlands NCC at King’s Norton to Wallsaw College in November last year.

The decision comes after three years of Vision 2020 reforms of CITB to better meet industry needs. The programme of change has seen CITB hand over direct training to other providers and give a stronger role for employers in its governance.

CITB’s administrative functions were outsourced, various card schemes were transferred to new owners or service providers, and the number of offices were reduced to one, centrally located head office in Peterborough.

CITB said: “A key commitment was to ensure that employers would continue to have training provision that was not readily available in the wider training market and it has not been possible to find suitable buyers for all the training businesses, particularly for specialist trades.

CITB has had active discussions with potential buyers of these businesses for the last two years but COVID-19 has now reshaped the long-term economic landscape for everyone and meant that potential new owners were reluctant to proceed to purchase.

In light of this and the commitment made that these services would not be lost, the CITB Board has decided to retain NCC East (Bircham Newton) and NCC Scotland (Inchinnan), though discussions with an alternative training provider for NCC South (Erith) will continue. CITB will also retain other training services provided remotely.” 

Peter Lauener, Chair of CITB’s Board, said: “In 2017 the Government and construction industry were clear that reform of CITB had to be delivered. We committed to delivering that change while making sure that industry did not lose training capacity, especially in specialist areas, in cases where it was not possible to find a new training provider.  

“The Vision 2020 reforms, and other changes made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, have successfully realigned our business to make us better able to support employers investing in skills. CITB operates colleges which provide vital and valued training where we have not been able to find suitable buyers that could continue to deliver the scope of high quality training the industry needs. The continuing uncertainty is damaging for employers who need to be sure they can get their staff trained, as well as for CITB colleagues who have supported their customers and learners throughout.

“The right course of action to support industry now is to provide stability and assurance. The Board has therefore decided to retain NCC East and NCC Scotland. This decision gives employers and CITB colleagues confidence and clarity and enables us to plan for the future, having realised the core ambitions of reform. We will of course keep these businesses under close review as we do for every aspect of our operation and this might lead in due course to alterations in our approach to NCC but we have no plans at present to return to market.”

CITB is gradually reopening the National Construction Colleges (NCCs) in England as per Government guidelines, with apprentices being welcomed back from the week beginning 22 March. NCC Scotland (Inchinnan) remains closed for face-to-face learning though the intention is to reopen in April.