National Demolition Training Group hits back over “swingeing” grant funding cuts.
Howard Button, chief executive of both the National Federation of Demolition Contractors and the National demolition Training Group and a keen advocate of workforce training, has hit back angrily over cuts to NVQ grant funding announced by Learning and Skills Council (LSC). Button believes that these swingeing cutbacks will impact upon the demolition industry’s ability to train staff and will undermine the sector’s drive towards a fully carded and competent workforce.
Following a recent meeting of the Learning and Skills Council, training providers (including the National Demolition Training Group) were advised that cutbacks in funding means that it will “not be enough to support new starts on next year’s contract, and that, initially at least, we will only be offering providers an allocation to complete learners carried over from the 2008-09 contract year”.
Button believes that this will impact across the entire industry but will be felt most acutely within the demolition business. “The Demolition NVQ Level 2 has been a great success due to two factors: the hard work put in by the NDTG; and the grant funding that has been available to contractors in England,” Button asserts. “Almost 200 Demolition VQs have been achieved by the NDTG to date in England. This loss of funding will have a huge and negative impact at a time when we (the NFDC) are encouraging our members to maintain their commitment to training at a time of industry-wide recession.”
The reduction in grant funding comes hot on the heels of a protracted discussion over the CPCS card scheme. Although this was recently resolved when CPCS finally recognised the specific equipment training needs of the demolition sector, the delays caused will now be magnified still further by another round of negotiations over NVQ funding.
Button further believes that the cutbacks will impact upon a Level 3 vocational qualification that is currently being developed by the National Demolition Training Group. “We have spent months developing a Demolition-specific NVQ Level 3. But how many companies will be willing to shell out £2,000 per man to get this new qualification when they could just as easily stick with the current NDTG 12-week distance learning course that delivers a Supervisor’s gold card. As far as I am concerned, the NDTG’s NVQ Level 3 is now on hold, pending feedback from the Learning and Skills Council and CITB ConstructionSkills.”