HC Deb 29 April 1998 vol 311 cc143-4W
Caroline Flint

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will announce the outcome of the quinquennial reviews of the Construction Industry Training Board and the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board. [40464]

Dr. Howells

Against the background of the established practice of carrying out quinquennial policy and financial reviews of non-Departmental Public Bodies, the Department conducted a thorough review of the Construction Industry Training Board and the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board during 1997–98.

The first stage was a policy review of the continued need for the Boards and resulted in approval for their statutory status and levy raising powers to be extended for a further 5 years, subject to implementation of a number of recommendations to improve their strategic capability, operational effectiveness and responsiveness.

Stage 2 consisted of an update to the main recommendations from Stage 1 and a financial management survey of both organisations.

The policy review updates noted that both Boards had made significant progress in implementing many of the recommendations from Stage 1 and made a number of further,specific recommendations, including: measures to strengthen their strategic capabilities as National Training Organisations, eg publication of full labour market assessments at both national and regional level, and dissemination of the more strategic elements of the Board's work; promoting the take up of the IIP standard among companies, encouraging employers to take more responsibility for their own training and involving clients more closely in promoting and encouraging training; and moving to reduce (CITB) or eliminate (ECITB) the differential levy rate between direct employers and those using labour only sub-contractors, and establishing whether there is a consensus within the respective industries for a move to a longer levy period.

The financial management surveys, carried out for the Department by external consultants Pannell Kerr Forster, concluded generally that both Boards were adequately managed organisations, but made a number of recommendations for improvement in the areas of: planning and budgeting; financial and management control; staffing and organisation; and development of a hierarchy of key performance indicators and targets to measure progress towards achieving objectives and ensure value for money.

All recommendations from the Quinquennial Reviews will be included in timed action plans drawn up by the Boards. Implementation will be monitored and reviewed by the Department within a reasonable period.

The Policy Review Updates and Financial Management Surveys for both CITB and ECITB are published today and a copy of each is being placed in the library. Further copies can be obtained on request from: Pat Simpson, Department for Education and Employment, National Training Organisations Division, Level E4c, Moorfoot, Sheffield S1 4 PQ.