1. Welcome and Apologies

Julia welcomed all in attendance and asked everyone to introduce themselves to give Carolyn an idea of who was who!

Attendees were:- Committee: Julia Coak of Lynx Construction,: Kelly Marsh of Brymor Construction; Estell Guest (treasurer); Eileen Bird and Carolyn Hinton; Steve Hale of Parchow Groundworks; Jason Woodward of P T Contractors. Members: Emily Horton of Aeropark Developments; Paul Broderick of Blaze Construction; Sammiee Price of Brymor Construction; Maggie Strefaniak and Nicky Stock of bmJV; Chelcey Douglas of C D S Group; Esther Hardie of Carlton Civil Engineering; Lena Coffin of Campbell Smitha and Cousins; Andrea Parker of Dyer and Butler; Tony Jack and Lori Noble of Hughes & Salvidge; Holly McDonald-Kattenhorn of L A Kattenhorn & Ptnrs; Wayne Musslewhite of Parchow Groundworks; Kerry Barrington of Parson Ash; Nicki Trant and Clare Calvert of P T Contractors; Shelley Baxter of R Collard; Vicky Lucas of Reside Construction; Janet Hutchinson of R & W Civil Engineering; Sarah Groves and Melissa Douglas of Selwoods; Becca Brown and Nicola Bunyan of Trant Engineering; Graham Alexander and Matt Alexander of Welbro Project Management; Jacqueline Mansfield of Wendage Pollution Control; Michelle Scott of IWCTG; Liz Steel and Darren Lawrence of CITB and Brian Pells of NOCN.

Apologies had been received from Laurence Stone of CITB; Lizzi Richardson of Richardson Nyewood; Mandy Phelps of Hexley; Gary Mann of Comserv UK; Vicki Boulton of Ahmarra Group; Andy Campbell of Kier Highways; H R Team from R W Armstrong; Jo Wilkinson of Gregory Bros; Kirsty Northcote of Champion Group; Clare Isaac of Knights Brown; Julie Binney and Sharon Hobbs of J C M Groundworks; Sharron Hampson of P M C Construction.

2. AGM Agenda

Julia commenced the proceedings with the Chairs report on 2019 activity which included a reminder of the speakers who had attended the meetings, the new members that had joined the group (Ahmarra Door Solutions; bmJV; and JCM Groundworks). She thanked the committee for their work and support and explained that Jacqueline was standing down from the committee after many years of great service. Both Paul and Lena are also moving on due to changes in employment and a request was made for new committee members. Lori Noble of Hughes and Salvidge was nominated by Tony and seconded by Steve so she was welcomed and will join the committee for 2020.

Eileen gave a brief summary of the training that had been organised and subsidised by HCTA during 2019. 267 delegates had been trained, over 105 courses with 21 training providers (mostly local but some national). A total of £6,920.70 had been used from HCTA funds to subsidise these attendances.

Estell showed the sums spent on training; gto and admin support; meeting venues and sundries – insurances, accountancy and website support which totalled £70.7k; the income was from CITB in the form of the training group grant, member subscription and member training changes, totalling £63.2k. This meant an overall loss of £7.5k most of which was explained by the planned member subsidy and some losses on courses planned which did not get as much uptake as expected (this being the bulk e-learning, the Construction ILM and the IEMA courses ). The bank holding was not shown, but is just over £49k

Before asking the attendees of the meeting to vote, Carolyn introduced herself. Carolyn has been working in tandem with Eileen since late January, attending meetings, setting up electronic systems and starting to build up knowledge of the things that members may need support with. Her main hours of work will be 08.30 – 17.30 on Tuesday and Wednesday and 08.30 – 12.30 on Thursday but she can be available for meetings at other times by arrangement. Contact is via the new email address of gto@www.hcta.org.uk and by phone on 07525 807939.

Sarah asked for clarification on ‘ITG status’. Eileen explained that CITB only support training groups with grant that are ‘Independent’ as per the CITB rules set up back in 2007. The requirement for member support for HCTA to commit to the independent status is part of our Articles of Association.

3. Speaker – Brian Pells from NOCN (National Open College Network)

Brian gave a comprehensive presentation about NOCN which bought out CITB’s awarding organisation and also owns CPCS and CISRS (the plant and scaffolder record cards). Brian himself is from the Construction Product Project Team.

One of the things that Brian did was to apologise for all of the issues relating to CPCS cards during late 2019 and the start of this year. There is now a free phone number for CPCS queries which is 0344 499 1900. Members spoke about a number of their issues, cards arriving with wrong categories, tracking of card applications during the backlog, making payments are a few examples. Brian offered to take outstanding issues up if they are sent through Carolyn as a central point.

There is a new card checker which is specific to CPCS so will not show CSCS cards held by the same operative. They will show other NOCN products (see section on ‘SiteRight’. The cards, when issued are done so automatically and there is no check done by anyone before they are issued to the operator (or training provider/ employer if that is the address given). The card checker is available on an app so, for the new smart cards which will be chipped, can be on site agents phones.

Cards that are about to become invalid due to the end of Industrial Accreditation can now be un-graded with a Professional Discussion which should enable holders of those cards to get the appropriate categories on a full card without the need for an NVQ.

There are now videos available to help people prepare for their renewal tests, this should be an improvement to the fact sheets. Tony asked who it is that insists on the renewal part of CPCS. Brian replied that the CPCS management board is still the decision-maker on all of this type of policy. Steve raised the concern that most of the major contractors, who seem to make up these management boards, do not themselves employ plant operators, but that subcontracts do and they are not consulted about the practicalities of the card scheme rules.

The other thing that was discussed in respect of card schemes was the Health, Safety and Environment test which is booked through Pearson Vue. Their call centre is now in India, this change was not discussed with CSCS or CPCS and caused a lot of problems. Discussions are taking place to try to improve and/or change things.

In respect of the Awarding Body part of NOCN, things are also moving forward with qualifications being updated. NOCN are now the largest provider of End Point Assessments. There were discussions about this. The end point assessment is a requirement of Apprenticeships only. They must be carried out by as assessor who is independent to the college/training provider who did the original training. NOCN is putting together a list of assessors who will do this and the colleges can make contact and arrange assessors for epa’s through NOCN. There was a concern that this could increase the cost of apprenticeships and Brian suggested that providers were aware of this requirement and that it should be within the budget they have set aside.

When they took over CPCS, one of the things that NOCN was often asked about was why there is no longer any specific plant training under the CPCS banner. This led NOCN to look at all short course training and they have since developed SiteRight which, as yet only has a few courses within it, but they are all short courses which have been accepted by CITB, such that NOCN are an ATO (Approved Training Organisation). Training providers can use the NOCN produced course material, for which they must pay £25 for each persons registration and certification and the courses would be eligible for CITB grant. Andrea asked if employers can use them, to which the answer was yes, but on hearing the cost, this may not be as advantageous as appeared possible, especially for the shorter courses for which grant is currently £30.

The range of courses will be increased over time. Tony commented that Cable Avoidance tools are now being superseded in use by Cable Locators. He also mentioned that demolition companies do not lift, which their clients often expect them to have training/qualifications/processes for; they take down. This was noted.

Brian gave his contact details which should only be used in respect of CPCS (albeit with the request that queries raised at the meeting are summarised through Carolyn after she is sent details) brian.pells@nocn.org.uk

Queries and questions in respect of End Point Assessments should go to Beverly.scarfe@nocn.ork.uk

4. CITB Update – Liz Steel

Liz explained that the new CITB grant scheme which will come into effect on 1st April has not yet been released so she was unable to give any rates. She did however summarise the current system which she expect will have little or no change in essence. The focus from CITB will remain in 3 areas:- Careers; Training & Development and Standards & Qualifications.

Apprenticeship grants are available for levels 2-6 and are based on the grant year when the apprenticeship starts. Claims must be made within the first 20 weeks of the apprenticeship. The time frame for payment of the ‘attendance’ part of the grant will be based on the length of the apprenticeship standard, so if the standard states 18 months, then grant would be paid for 18 months, or less if the apprentice leaves the course, or the employer before the allocated time is completed.

For qualification grants (NVQ’s etc – see CITB web site for full details) the grant is £600 on achievement. Questions were raised about why this is not yet shown on the Construction Training Register. CITB are wanting to ensure that short courses are being added correctly before the remit of the register is increased to cover these. Longer-period qualification grants are also available and all must be applied for within 20 weeks of the start of training. This must be construction specific training to attract any grant.

As CPCS had been covered during the NOCN presentation, Liz clarified that plant training grants are the same for any plant training that has been mapped to the standards, so both NPORS and CPCS training would attract the same grant rate. CPCS testing however is specific and there is a grant for that, bit the practical and theory.

A question was raised about UCEN on-line courses. There is an achievement grant for Construction courses – again details are on the CITB web site.

Short course grants will remain at 3 levels (plant training is at £120.00) Refresher courses attract only 50% of the full course rate. Shelley asked about Asbestos refreshers which are needed every year – currently grant is not paid twice for the same course within 12 months. The situation in respect of Asbestos Awareness is under appeal.

Liz then moved on to talk about Funding. The current situation is that employers with less than 100 PAYE employees (as declared on their last levy return) can claim for the difference between the cost of training and the grant they can receive, up to a certain amount (£5,000; £7,500 or £10,000 dependent on size of company) Sub contractors ca be claimed for – this led to a discussion regarding sub-contract status, which neither CITB nor HCTA are able to provide advice on. Graham, Jacqueline and Esther commented, regarding who has ‘control’ and if you can show the sub-contract works for other people then this was acceptable. Members to check for themselves.

The other funding route available now is via the Structured Funds – information about the particular things that CITB is looking for and a chance to show your interest in a subject are all available on line www.citb.co.uk/levy-grants-and-funding/grants-funding/citb-commissioned-projects-fund/

From April 2020 employers of between 100 and 249 employees will be able to apply for funding to cover training in Leadership and Management, Innovation and Improving productivity. This does not have to be construction specific. This fund will be up to £25k per employer. Full details will be on the CITB web site in April.

Note:- smaller companies who will still be eligible for the existing skills and training fund from April 2020 onwards will also be able to add the 3 topics above on any new plans.

Training Groups will also have the opportunity of applying for funding for members as a group. For the short term only, this would mean that members with existing plans could access more funding I they were part of a group bid and this could be for the leadership courses etc as above. HCTA committee had not felt that a group bid would be easy to administer, but members should contact Carolyn to discuss this if they feel differently.

Some members asked Liz why they had not heard about their final claims on skills and training fund bids from 2019. They should have heard, so members should raise this themselves with their funding contact at CITB or through Liz.

There is due to be a CITB roadshow in Southampton on 30th April with Sara Beale in attendance.

Finally Liz confirmed that CITB is going through Consensus at the moment with voting in 2020 and the outcome being published in 2021. There is a ‘Citizen Open Space’ to be available from 16th March until May for comments. Members challenged the voting which it was felt misses the smaller employers. Liz confirmed that 6,000 non-federation members are contacted by telephone and that ‘research’ does not stop until the 6,000 number is reached.

5. HCTA 2020 – Carolyn Hinton

Carolyn advised that the HCTA committee have been discussing holding an extra event during 2020, in the form of a business symposium, which would cover a specific subject with a speaker or two who would perhaps be of interest to other people from within HCTA member companies. The hope is to engage more with decision-makers within companies and widen the group appeal. Suggestions for topics were asked for, using the reverse of the voting slip.

Eileen then spoke about the courses which HCTA might hope to assist members with as a group during the year. It was decided that running an IEMA Environmental Management course in April was inappropriate with Coronavirus becoming more of a concern, so this will be postponed until later in the year. Members were asked to let Carolyn know if they would like a bulk purchase of e-learning to be bought. Last year the number purchased were not all used and so this will not be done without a goo number of people showing interest.

Some information was on each table which Eileen explained. Anyone interested in working more closely with schools was encouraged to look at something which had been produced by the London Construction Training Group with CITB funding, in conjunction with Go Construct and Construction Youth Trust It is Contextualised Curriculum information which schools can use to bring construction and the build environment into the classroom. Anyone interested in finding out more should contact Carolyn. The idea is not that members should do any teaching themselves, but to introduce any schools they have a link with to this information.

Jason then gave an update on the Career event which he had spoken about during 2019. The event now has a date and venue – 6th & 7th October 2021 and will be for 9-14 year olds. It will be at CETC and CEMAST, both being made available free of charge. Members who would like to get involved in any way are encouraged to make that known. Companies can be there as participants on the 2 days, individuals can support on the judging panel, offering admin support during the day, be on welcome tables etc for as little as an hour, or the full 2 days. Sponsorship is also open for prises, to cover specific costs etc, Any support will be welcome! Jacqueline asked if there was a flier about this which could be used to show others within their companies about the event, or to promote it to suppliers, clients and schools etc. Jason will produce one and circulate it over the coming months. He also confirmed a web site is being built to promote the event.

6. A.O.B – Tony advised that Hughes and Salvidge had been in contact with Jenny from Building Heros since they attended a meeting last year. They are running basic construction courses every 5 weeks to encourage ex-service personnel to consider Construction as a future career.

Julia then spoke about Eileen, who is leaving HCTA for pastures new. The group presented Eileen with gifts, cards and flowers. Eileen gave a tearful thank you to everyone she has worked with over the past 12 years and leaves the group with sadness, but also with enthusiasm that HCTA will move forwards in 2020 under the guidance of the chair and committee with Carolyn as the group training officer with a bright future.

The next meeting is planned for 10th June at CETC, but is subject to change in view of the Coronavirus situation which is changing things daily.

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