New £1.2m grants scheme 'will help address construction skills shortage'
A NEW £1.2 million grant scheme has been launched to help train and upskill construction workers in Northern Ireland.
Employers will be offered up to £5,500 for each worker and apprentice signing up to the training scheme.
The move is seen as a direct response to what has been identified as a "significant" skills shortage across many trades in the north.
The construction sector has enjoyed a stellar start to 2017, with order books full for two-thirds of local companies on the back of growth in private housebuilding, new hotels, offices and retail space, the Ulster University and other infrastructure work.
And with the prospect over the next two years of a £400 million capital investment injection as a result of the the Tory-DUP deal, the industry's ability to deliver projects is dependent on attract more young people and addressing its aging workforce.
CITB, whose role is to encourage the adequate training of those employed in construction and improve the skills and productivity of the industry, says it has now enhanced the apprenticeship grants available to registered employers.
This means that an employer can gain up to £4,000 during the three-year cycle of training an apprentice, and an additional £1,500 from the Department for the Economy for those who employ apprentices from the start of their apprenticeship through to completion of NVQ Level 2 and 3.
“We need to work with industry at all levels to make sure we support it in the right way to develop skills for its continuing success," CITB's chief executive Barry Neilson said.
"Our grant scheme is widely recognised and valued within the industry and we want to continue to provide financial support for employers of all sizes towards the training and qualification of their workforce.
"We have a major focus on apprentices and want to help employers realise the importance of apprenticeships, their value and to make sure they know how to go about employing a young person in an apprenticeship role.
"We have ring-fenced £100,000 for 100 new apprentices in the next training year. We want to encourage employers to make a difference by retaining their apprentices beyond level 2 and making them an overall part of their workforce."
He added: "Apprenticeships help nurture and develop a skill and that is why we have boosted the grants funding to help improve the apprenticeship uptake within our sector.”