TTA secures CSCS card funding

The Tile Association has secured funding from the CITB for the provision of assessor infrastructure for the wall and floor tiling sector across the UK to support quality assured assessment of experience operatives to NVQ L2.

Part funding is also available for NVQ EWPAR/OSAT training, which will help fixers obtain their CSCS cards.

Having independent NVQ assessors will help the TTA strengthen its training activities and make it easier for companies and independent fixers to access the training support they need, and the aim is that eight new NVQ assessors will be trained over the next 18 months.

This initiative will benefit the industry by promoting and supporting a skilled and qualified workforce, which will stimulate the market by providing a route to qualification for experienced operatives via on-site assessment.

The training comprises a one-day course which can be carried out at either of BAL’s Training Centres, which are located in Trentham and Bristol. Assessors can also visit customers on-site, although there would be an additional charge for this.

The training costs £500 for TTA members and £600 for non-TTA members. Both are subject to a £68 registration fee. On successful completion of the course, candidates will receive a refund of £210 of their fee. Independent fixers are entitled to claim a £100 refund if they join the TTA.

Dates for the first sessions have been agreed. These will take place at the BAL Innovation & Technology Centre in Trentham on 21 November, 28 November, 30 November, 12 December and 14 December. Anyone interested should contact Elaine Proctor at the TTA on or by telephoning 0300 365 8453.

Funding policy finalised for Apprenticeship Levy

The Government has published its final apprenticeship funding policy, which includes additional funding for young persons and apprentices from disadvantaged areas, and an extended period for large employers to use their apprenticeship funds.


Under the new funding policy, employers will receive £1,000 when they train young apprentices aged 16 to 18, or apprentices aged 19 to 24 who have previously been in care or who have a local authority education, health and care plan.

The increased funding is meant to offset the cost of training for this group.

The Government will also pay 100% of the training costs for apprentices from this group of young persons, where an employer is not required to pay the apprenticeship levy and has less than 50 employees.

The new funding policy allows training providers to receive a number of additional payments, including additional funding for training apprentices from disadvantaged areas in England, and higher funding bands for apprenticeship frameworks in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Under the final funding policy, employers that pay the apprenticeship levy  will have 24 months (up from 18) to spend their apprenticeship funds and, beginning in 2018, increased flexibility to transfer a portion of apprenticeship funds to other employers.

The apprenticeship levy will be set at 0.5% of an employer’s paybill. Each employer will have an annual allowance of £15,000, which will be offset against the levy. In effect, only employers with a paybill of more than £3 million will be liable to pay the levy.

Robert Halfon, skills minister, said: “Our apprenticeship levy will boost our economic productivity, increase our skills base and give millions a leg up on the ladder of opportunity – over 90% of apprentices currently go into work or further training. Making Britain a world leader on apprenticeships is essential if we truly want a country that works for everyone.”

The changes to apprenticeship funding are the result of feedback received on an initial funding policy published in August 2016. The new system will take effect in England beginning May 2017.



Apprentice wins Gold at SkillBuild NI – supported by BAL.

Daniel McBurney achieved Gold in Wall and Floor Tiling, after competing against other apprentices at South West College, Technology and Skills Centre Enniskillen.

Skillbuild NI, run and governed by CITB NI, is held annually each spring with the top local construction apprentices competing to win coveted titles ranging from brickwork to wall and floor tiling.

BAL have supported SkillBuild for a number of years, with Training Manager Dave Rowley acting as lead judge since 2009 and the company providing materials.

The winners may then go on to represent Northern Ireland in the Skills Show UK and potentially at WorldSkills.

Eight other Southern Regional College apprentices were also awarded at the SkillBuild NI Finals.

“It reflects the high standards of training in our Colleges and the commitment to excellence demonstrated by the competitors. As with all skills competitions, Skillbuild NI is about raising the status and standards of professional and technical education and training.

“We have a proud record of success at skills competitions not only on a local level but also on a regional, national and world level.

“I congratulate the ten young competitors who have been selected to represent the UK Squad, and I look forward to seeing how many progress to the prestigious Worldskills competition in Abu Dhabi in 2017.”

The competition encourages trainees to improve their own skills and provides an example of the high quality work being produced in training organisations and colleges across NI.

The Skillbuild test pieces are designed to challenge the ability of apprentices, testing skills within tight timeframes and the competitors are being continuously assessed throughout the competition.

The competition has the support of local construction employers who sponsor each category, and has the overall support from the Department for Employment and Learning, Construction Employers Federation, Haldane Fisher, City and Guilds, Colleges NI, Federation of Master Builders and Subway.

Maurice Johnston, Chairman CITB NI said: “CITB NI is proud to have been involved in construction competitions for almost 40 years.

(SOURCE: Banbridge Leader)

Trainee Tilers excel at The Skills Show National Final

A trainee tiler from Northern Ireland scooped the wall and floor tiling gold medal at the Skills Show at Birmingham’s NEC.

The gold medal went to Kieran Magee from Southern Regional College in Northern Ireland; silver went to Jack Radford from Nottingham’s New College and Lee Jones from Cardiff and Vale College picked up the bronze medal.

Aaron Hilton from Leeds College of Building and Christopher Weston from Cardiff and Vale College received Highly Commended awards.

Kieran Magee and Jack Radford were also named in Squad UK to train towards selection for WorldSkills Abu Dhabi in 2017. They join Armondos Tamulis from Southern Regional College in the squad.

The Tile Association is the lead competition supplier for the wall and floor tiling competition and provided the prizes for the gold, silver and bronze medal winners. As well as a cheque, medal winners will also receive a Bellotta Pro 55 Tile Cutter. BAL provided adhesives for the competition, with tiles supplied by Johnson Tiles and trims by Schluter. Suretile, meanwhile, supplied a Tiletracker system for each finalist.

The wall and floor tiling competition was one of 58 trade finals held at The Skills Show this year. Regional heats took place at colleges across the UK under the watchful eye of Dave Rowley from BAL, chairman of the Tile Association’s supply chain training committee. Finalists then moved on to the national event at The Skills Show.

Congratulations to all the young tilers who were invited to take part in the final:

Sovandeth Chin — Leeds College of Building
Daniel Griffin — St Helens College
Aaron Hilton — Leeds College of Building
Aaron Horrobin — Cardiff and Vale College
Lee Jones — Cardiff and Vale College
Kieran Magee — Southern Regional College
Jack Radford — New College, Nottingham
Armondas Tamulis — Southern Regional College
Christopher Weston — Cardiff and Vale College
Patrick Wong — South and City College Birmingham
Malcolm Worley — St Helens College


Trainee tilers to compete for national title at The Skills Show

The best trainee tile fixers from across the UK will be competing for the national title at this year’s Skills Show in November. The Tile Association is the lead competition supplier for the wall and floor tiling competition and is providing the prizes for the gold, silver and bronze medal winners.

The Skills Show is the UK’s leading skills and careers event for young people and takes place from 19th to 21st November at the NEC in Birmingham. The wall and floor tiling competition is one of 60 trade finals being held.

Regional heats have taken place at colleges across the UK this year under the watchful eye of Dave Rowley from BAL, chairman of the TTA’s supply chain training committee.

Finalists now move on to the national event at The Skills Show, where they will aim to become UK champion. Those who excel may be selected to train in Squad UK to represent their country at WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017.

Tiling companies are also doing their bit to support the competition and the finalists.

As well as a cheque from the TTA, medal winners will also receive a Bellotta Pro 55 Tile Cutter.

BAL is providing the adhesives for the competition, with tiles supplied by Johnson Tiles and trims by Schluter. Suretile, meanwhile, is supplying a Tiletracker system for each finalist, which they will be able to keep after the event.

Each finalist will receive a toolbag — if your company would like to donate items to go in it, please email as soon as possible.

There is lots more information about this year’s Skills Show at


To find out more about how we’re supporting the tilers of tomorrow click here.

Think-tank calls for £500m FE funding boost

A think-tank report funded by the construction industry is calling for the government to shift £500m of funding from universities to further education colleges to promote technical education.

The authors recommend that further education get the same treatment as higher education, with the same student loan regime.

The report – Higher, Further, Faster, More: Improving higher level professional and technical education  – is written by Policy Exchange and funded by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and Wates Construction.

It says that funding for higher education institutions (universities) has increased markedly since the introduction of tuition fees, with a rise in overall income of 26% since 2009/10. As a result, universities are sitting on £12.3bn of unrestricted reserves – worth around 48% of the entire annual budget for the HE sector. By contrast, further education colleges have seen a significant drop in their revenue, with the adult skills budget having been cut by 24% since 2009-10. According to the National Audit Office, more than one in four of the entire FE college network could go bankrupt within a year.

The report calls for the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) to redirect up to £532m of the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) grant to improve the quality of higher level technical qualification on offer at FE colleges, national colleges and institutes of technology. Any remaining grant funding should be directed towards universities with the smallest financial reserves.

The report also proposes an expansion of the university student loan system, as well as the introduction of maintenance support, to FE students. This would mean that for the first time all young people will have equal access to finance to support further study, whether they choose a university or a high quality technical pathway

Other recommendations include:

•          The ability for the new institutes of technology, announced in the government’s recent productivity plan, to award their own technical degrees rather than have to partner with a university

•          The expansion of industrial partnership bodies – groups of employers in specific sectors – to be the main route to design and approve all new technical qualifications, including higher level apprenticeships

Jonathan Simons, head of education at Policy Exchange, said: “The UK is home to world beating universities that we should all be proud of. But as well as degrees, we also need many more people with high class technical and professional skills – and that means a flourishing further education system. It is clear that higher education is significantly better funded than its further education counterpart. Universities have substantial cash reserves which could be much better utilised than sitting in banks. That is why we think a proportion of the government grant to universities should be reallocated towards offering more students higher level technical qualifications at further education institutions, and why the student loan system should be expanded so that young people have access to finance to support their higher level study whichever route they choose.”

CITB policy director Steve Radley said: “This report offers a radical rethink of the way education funding is allocated. The UK lags behind the rest of the world in terms of how many of us undertake vocational education after secondary school. Just 10% of 25-40 year olds in the UK have a post-secondary vocational qualification, which pales in comparison to the US where 22% of the labour force has similar qualifications. Industry needs a reformed FE sector to provide the skills needed for productivity and growth. It is vital that we find the most effective way for FE to deliver this.”

Wates strategy director Steve Beechey said: “Without substantial investment many of the FE colleges will, and in some cases already are, failing to offer the education that the construction industry requires in order to continue to thrive and support the UK economy.  We need to invest in people and training to ensure the future labour pool, without doing so, we run the risk of derailing our countries recovery and future success.”


If you’re interested in becoming a tiler or developing your skills, visit our Training Page.