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From the organisers of

A qualified workforce: by Mark Priestman

6 January 2020
Mark Priestman

Mark Priestman, who writes this column on training in the stone industry in the Natural Stone Specialist magazine.

Raring to go are we? Or still a bit sluggish from the return to work?

Whichever is the case, don’t forget to check out some funding opportunities for your training and assessment needs.  Act quickly because they won’t be around forever!

£4,900 of fee neutral industry valued training

The CITB Specialist Applied-Skills Programme (SAP) really is a no brainer for CITB-registered firms. 

My firm was awarded the tender for two of these schemes:

  1. Façade Preservation (great for façade cleaners and/or restorers)
  2. Stone Fixing (for both the architectural fixer and cladder and the internal fixer of stonework on spas, swimming pools, bathrooms, kitchens, lobbies and so on, who have not benefitted from a formal course or NVQ).

These programmes see the learner mentored on projects by your own experienced workers so they learn your methods of working. Then, for 20 days over 12 months, the employee receives off-site industry-approved training. At the end of 12 months the package includes a six-month period for them to be assessed against the suitable level 2 NVQ. Programmes are available in greater London but can be ported to your locality as long as there are six or more people enrolled on the SAP.

Give me a shout if you’d like a look at an information pack. My email address is at the bottom of this page.

CITB Skills & Training Fund

This helps construction companies develop a stronger skills base and provides an extra incentive for you to access CITB grant-eligible training.

CITB-registered employers with up to 99 directly employed staff on the payroll can apply for funding once every 12 months. Those with one to 49 people receive up to £5,000; those with 50 to 74 receive up to £7,500; and those with 75 to 99 receive up to £10,000.

The fund can be used against training and assessment packages needed by the business. This could include NVQs and Site Supervisor Safety Training Schemes. To find out more contact your CITB company representative or go to:

CITB grants for NVQs

Currently the CITB also offers grants to in-scope companies when their worker achieves a construction related NVQ.

An in-scope company is a company registered with the CITB. Some registered firms pay a levy. Others don’t, depending on their circumstances. Both are ‘in-scope’, meaning they are eligible for grants. See to find out about off-setting some of your NVQ fee against the grant for achievement – currently the grant is a generous £600, which could be as much as half of the NVQ assessment fee.

Don’t be afraid of CITB registration

Naturally you’ll want to look into this for yourself, but It is worth mentioning that for companies that meet the criteria, registration is a matter of legislation.

Many see the levy as an extra tax only to discover they don’t have to pay anything but they are entitled to money to assist them with the development of their businesses.

If you want to get that ball rolling, here is where I would start:

Mark Priestman is a Partner at Priestman Associates LLP, a leading façade preservation project consultancy. From stonemasonry and heritage skills through to site supervision and conservation management, the partnership is trusted by the leading brands of the sector as an NVQ provider for experienced, upskiller and apprentice workers. 07876 687212. [email protected]   


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