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FMB warns Spending Review must tackle apprenticeship levy

The government needs to revise its plans for a one-size-fits all apprenticeship levy or risk exacerbating the growing skills crisis in the building industry, the Federation of Master Builders warns ahead of the Spending Review.

Chief executive Brian Berry said: “At the very time when the government is trying to increase apprenticeship training, the proposed apprenticeship levy could have exactly the opposite effect unless the construction industry’s concerns are addressed.”

Mr Berry said the skills crisis in the industry was fraught, with 60% of small firms struggling to hire bricklayers and 54% of firms finding it difficult to source carpenters and joiners.

“With a further 400,000 construction workers expected to retire over the next five to 10 years, it is vital that the government gets its training policies right,” he added.

Fifteen construction trade bodies have signed a joint submission advising that the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) be allowed to administer the new levy and that funds contributed by large construction firms are ring-fenced for construction apprenticeship training.

Mr Berry said the idea that apprenticeship levy contributions paid for by construction firms may end up funding other sectors of the economy was not acceptable when there is such a serious skills crisis in the building industry.

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