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Construction: Government Assistance

Volume 490: debated on Thursday 26 March 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps his Department is taking to maintain and protect (a) skills and (b) capability in the construction industry during the recession; and if he will make a statement. (262554)

I have been asked to reply.

The Government are working closely with all sides of the construction industry to mitigate the impact of the economic downturn. Skill levels and training capability are protected through the continuing levy arrangements directed by the Construction Industry Training Board. Over the next three years the levy is anticipated to rise between £535 million to £545 million for training in the construction sector.

In recent months we have also taken a number of specific measures. We have set up an Apprenticeship Task Force with employers and trade unions to see how we can expand and improve apprenticeships within construction. We have established an Apprentice Matching Service to find alternative training places for redundant apprentices. Construction was one of the first sectors to agree a Train to Gain compact, which offers additional flexibilities within the Train to Gain service for employers. In addition, through the last pre-Budget report we announced bringing forward £3 billion of capital spending for housing, education, transport and other construction projects.

When Departments and agencies let a new contract there is now an expectation that successful contractors will provide training for apprentices.