Research conducted by YouGov on behalf of Hudson Contract showed only 9% of SMEs said they receive CITB funding for training employees.
And of that 9%, only half receive the full cost of training.
Hudson said SMEs pay twice as much levy as larger firms yet have less power to influence the CITB.
The survey also found that 60% of levy payers provide training without CITB grant funding.
Ian Anfield, Managing Director of Hudson Contract said: “Despite spending millions on websites, roadshows and PR, the CITB’s influence on training provision is negligible.
“In reality, the CITB is a hapless bystander while SMEs get on with the day job.
“More and more stakeholders are questioning whether there is a need for a levy and grant system at all. This needs an answer.”
Further results from the research show that:
- More than half of the firms interviewed have either no knowledge or no opinion of the CITB levy’s effectiveness in ensuring training and skills development.
- 71% say the possibility of a CITB grant to cover training does not influence decisions to send workers on a training course; and a mere 2% say a CITB grant is the main reason for training.
- 38% of firms would continue training even without the possibility of a levy grant.
Anfield said analysis of the CITB’s own accounts show that large businesses receive a 92% return on their levy payment, whereas small and micro sized businesses receive 61% and 52% respectively.
Of those who say that they find it difficult to claim back grants, 55% say that the reason for this is that they do not have an administrator to support them, while 50% say the process is too complicated.
Steve Radley, Director of Policy at CITB said: “The Hudson’s survey highlights some important issues, which we have already acknowledged and are addressing.
“We are working closely with our industry to design a new grants scheme that helps construction meet its skill needs and to ensure smaller firms get the support that they need.
“As a first step, we’ve already worked with employers to design and launch a new Skills and Training Fund to give project funding of up to £5,000 for employers with less than 50 employees.
“Over the last 12 months, 442 small, medium and micro-sized firms have collectively received £1.9 million in training funding, and their feedback has been very positive.
“We know that we need to make our support much more accessible to firms of all sizes. At the same time, the Hudson’s survey, which includes only a small number of actual levy payers, doesn’t tells us the whole story.
“Our own independent research, based on a much larger sampler of levy registered employers shows that 72% of employers consider the CITB Levy is important for the industry.
“In addition 63% of employers (and 71% of small firms) think that if CITB did not exist, training levels would drop and fewer apprentices would be recruited.”
Tony Willson, Managing Director of training adviser Helmsman Services, said: “Any company that moans about not getting Grant only has itself to blame.
“It is not that large companies are getting proportionately more Grant than smaller ones, it is that they do a lot of training and have processes to ensure that claims are maximised.
“Although the Grant Scheme is complex, if a company wishes to ensure that it is receiving the maximum Grant for the training that it does, there are many ways of obtaining assistance to achieve this from CITB itself, Training Groups or companies such as ours.
“But in many cases, the companies can’t be bothered.”
YouGov independently questioned more than 500 construction companies during the Hudson research.