Unite, the UK’s construction union, is warning that the groundbreaking Constructionarium project is at risk of closure as a direct result of the Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) plans to close their headquarters at Bircham Newton in north Norfolk and withdraw from direct construction training. 

The Constructionarium project provides a hands on experience for undergraduates to experience designing and developing a construction project. It involves participants constructing scaled down versions of bridges, buildings dams and other civil engineering projects from around the world. The undergraduates learn directly from qualified professionals on the project. 

Last year 900 students and 160 university staff attended the Constructionarium project which is hosted and facilitated at Bircham Newton. 

Reliant on CITB 

Although the Constructionarium project is a separate organisation from the CITB, those attending stay in the CITB’s accommodation and are fed by the CITB’s canteen and use the CITB’s delegate services. 

The CITB’s controversial plans include closing Bircham Newton and relocating the organisation’s headquarters to an as yet unspecified building in Peterborough and outsourcing so called ‘office functions’. Also the CITB will no longer be providing specialist construction training, it will either be outsourced to a private provider or closed.

The plans will mean that the CITB’s headcount will be reduced from 1,370 to just 484 people by 2020. The CITB has confirmed that there will be 150 people employed at its new headquarters but has not yet identified what roles they will undertake. 

Unintended consequences 

Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain said: “The CITB’s decision to close Bircham Newton and end the direct provision of construction training is littered with unintended consequences. One of these is that the unique Constructionarium project, which is key to attracting delegates into the industry, could close. 

“If the Constructionarium was forced to close it will have an enormous impact on the future generations of construction professionals and for skills and training in the industry.” 

Unite regional co-ordinating officer Mark Robinson said: “This is yet another reason why the CITB must revisit there plans which are clearly not in the best interests of the long-term future of the construction industry. 

“The CITB’s plans do not have the support of the industry and the organisation needs to pause their proposals and seriously think again about what is in the best interests of the construction industry.” 

ENDS 

Notes to editors: 

For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.