A Qualified Workforce: by Mark Priestman

Mark Priestman is a Partner at Priestman Associates LLP, a leading fa√Åade 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].

Mark Priestman has more than 20 years’ experience in the natural stone sector. He plays an active role in the development and delivery of training in this specialist environment. Along with his father, David Priestman, he runs a training consultancy whose mantra is: Qualify the Workforce!

Skills & Training Fund

Following a briefing meeting I attended recently with the CITB, I thought I’d take this opportunity to ‘flag up’ the CITB Skills & Training Fund, as it’s my hope lots of you could be beneficiaries of it. 

First, you need to be a CITB registered firm. That’s registered for levy payments, but it doesn’t matter whether you are eligible to actually make levy payments or not, so long as you are registered – or ‘in-scope’, as they call it.

Second, you need to go to bit.ly/SATfund and check out all the terms and conditions. It’s also there that you’d make a claim for some of the available money pot. 

For now, though, let me give you my executive summary of what’s in the CITB Skills & Training Fund to benefit you. 

Here is the first key point: IT PAYS OUT AGAINST NVQ ASSESSMENT. Normally these funds are just for training, but with this you can apply for help as a business for OSAT (on site assessment) NVQs too. 


Of course, the fund is also to assist with training courses, but I’ve flagged up the NVQ aspect as many contractors are facing the need to qualify their workforce following recent changes to Labourer Cards, Site Visitor Cards, Construction Related Occupation Cards and Industry Accreditation Cards. 

Here’s some more facts for you: In CITB’s own words, “This fund provides assistance for micro and small construction companies to develop a stronger skills base. Specifically, it provides an extra incentive for you to access CITB grant eligible training.”

CITB in-scope businesses with up to 99 people on the payroll can make an application. Plus... employers can apply for funding once every 12 months. 

You can claim pots of grant up to £10,000 annually, depending on the size of your business (£5,000 for businesses of 1 to 49 employees; £7,500 for businesses with 50 to 74 employees; £10,000 for businesses with 75 to 99 employees).

The CITB Specialist Applied-Skills Programme (SAP) is officially here to stay

Industry has realised that the model for specialist applied-skills programmes (previously named Specialist Apprenticeship Programmes) is sound and has great appeal for the needs of small to medium size contractors in stone and similar sectors. 

Currently we are a year into a three year funding pot from the CITB to run these programmes with planning underway for their continuation. 

Our sector enjoys three such programmes. One is for Stone Fixing (bit.ly/stonefixer), which is available for both architectural external fixing and internal elements such as flooring and counter tops. The second is for Facade Preservation  (bit.ly/facadepres) which suits restorers and cleaners. If you are interested in either of these two please, give me a shout. My contact details are in the box about me. 

As for the third stone SAP, that one is for Heritage Masonry (bit.ly/HeritageSAP) and is run by Traditional Building Company. I’m sure they would also be happy to hear from you.