Construction training body takes wrecking ball to subcontracting

CITB also drops from Ofsted ‘outstanding’ to ‘requires improvement’

CITB also drops from Ofsted ‘outstanding’ to ‘requires improvement’

One of the largest providers of construction apprenticeships has ended its troubled subcontracted provision and dropped from Ofsted ‘outstanding’ to ‘requires improvement’.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) tumbled from the watchdog’s top grade, which it achieved twice in the 2010s, in a report published this week.

The executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Education and chaired by former Education and Skills Funding Agency chief Peter Lauener, has been among the biggest providers of subcontracted provision in further education for the past decade.

But Ofsted’s latest report revealed it has stepped away from the practice after finding ineffective oversight, with inspectors stating that leaders “focus too heavily on contract compliance and not on the quality of education”.

CITB confirmed it is winding down its subcontracted delivery, which it currently undertakes with 24 partners in areas like carpentry and joinery, construction skills and bricklaying.

The organisation said the decision was linked to government policy in 2021, which demanded providers in FE significantly reduce their subcontracted provision after scandals and cases of poor oversight were brought to light.

Ofsted’s previous report on CITB from 2017 showed it had 9,000 apprentices on its books, but the report from this week showed just 629.

The company claimed this did not, however, represent a dramatic decrease in its direct provision.

A spokesperson said: “The number of learners reduced from 9,000 because we made a strategic decision to withdraw from managing subcontracting providers. In 2017 the significant majority of learners were in subcontracted provision, rather than our own CITB apprenticeships.

“We reviewed our strategy for apprenticeships delivery and took the decision in 2021 to discontinue our subcontracted provision. We now focus on specialist apprenticeship delivery in niche provision that it would be difficult or prohibitively expensive for other providers to deliver.”

The CITB spokesperson said that Ofsted’s report also included “many examples of high-quality practice” at the organisation, adding that it has “committed investment to improve our training for apprentices and continue to transform provision with a focus on improving performance monitoring, supporting staff to deliver quality, specialist learning and, providing high-quality careers guidance”.

Ofsted’s report comes months after CITB’s accounts revealed it faces a clawback of up to £10.3 million to the ESFA following an audit of historic non-compliant apprenticeships data.

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