“It could have been a lot worse.”

Not the response of the nation to the outcome of this year’s General Election, but the feeling within our membership following the announcement of cuts in the grants available for training through CITB-ConstructionSkills. Due to a reduction in the training levy being generated by the industry as a result of the recession, the CITB has been forced to review its Grants Scheme for 2011 and beyond to ensure that it is sustainable in the long term. Training is a hugely important aspect of any company’s growth and development, and these cuts come at a time when companies are turning to training to ensure that they are in the best possible position to benefit from the opportunities emerging as the country begins to move towards a more stable economic climate.

Following consultation with a number of industry bodies, including the BWF, the changes to the Grants Scheme have been made in order to streamline the system.

There is still a significant amount of money available for companies to invest in training. To make the most of the grants available, one option is to take on an apprentice: a great way to help secure the future of your business and one of the areas in which funding is most concentrated, allowing you to claim up to £9,000 for a three-year apprentice.

Alternatively, by putting together a training and development plan you could claim up to £17.50 per employee per day for training, on top of up to £275 for achievement of certain technical and professional qualifications. There are now limits to the amount that can be claimed, but it all helps.

It’s important to remember that without a commitment to training now, we could be facing a worrying skills gap in years to come. If you’re clever about your training plans, and claim from different ‘pots’ to avoid exceeding claim limits, you can escape the worst of the cuts, allowing your business to grow and improving the skills of your team. Whatever you do, we’re here to help you make the most of what’s available.