Scottish builders in apprentice funding call as survey shows rise in employer confidence

Published:  22 June, 2015

Confidence within the Scottish construction industry has hit a new record peak of +35, up six points on the first quarter of 2015, according to the Scottish Construction Monitor (SCM) survey.

The latest rating is the highest recorded since the SCM began in 2008, and marks the eighth consecutive quarter that Scottish building employers’ confidence has been rated positive overall.

The SCM is a quarterly survey of members of independent construction trade body Scottish Building Federation (SBF). The survey asks how confident employers feel about their company’s prospects over the next 12 months compared to the previous year.

Other questions were asked on the subject of future priorities for levy and grant funding within the UK industry, which is managed by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). Construction industry employers are required by law to complete an annual CITB levy return. The money raised is used to provide training grants and other services to support the UK construction industry.

CITB is undertaking an investment funding review to examine whether current funding arrangements are meeting employer training requirements and how these might be improved. The results will be used to introduce changes to the system in 2016.

Employers responding to the survey identified apprenticeships as the top future priority for grant funding, followed by health and safety training and technical or professional training. In 2014, the industry levy generated a total income of £160 million. £144 million of this money was returned to the industry, including £47 million in formal grants for apprenticeships.

Scottish Building Federation managing director Vaughan Hart said: “The results are particularly striking against the backdrop of recent reports that overall business confidence in Scotland has declined due to falling profits.

“In construction, there can be no doubt that margins remain very tight but there is at least a supply of new work out there now, which certainly wasn’t the case two years ago. As we’ve said before, certain sectors of the industry are faring better than others and we’re concerned that industry employment is lagging significantly behind output.

“I’m encouraged that employers view apprenticeships as a top priority for future investment from the industry levy. Hopefully this finding will add strength to CITB’s arm in prioritising apprenticeship funding as it reviews the future training needs of the industry.”

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