Building sector training institute established

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In September 2002, the forthcoming establishment of a training institute for the Luxembourg building industry was announced. The creation of the new body was provided for by a collective agreement signed in 2000. The institute, which will offer skills training at four levels, will be funded by a mandatory annual levy of 0.65% of total paybill on the enterprises in the sector.

It was announced in September 2002 that a new training institute for the building industry is to be set up in the near future. This initiative results from the sectoral collective agreement concluded in June 2000 (LU0007140N). The deal was concluded following talks at the National Conciliation Office (Office National de Conciliation, ONC), after negotiations had broken down. The signatories were the trade union bargaining commission for the building sector (which covers construction and allied trades, and a total of over 30,000 workers) - in which the Luxembourg Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (Onofhängege Gewerkschafts-Bond Lëtzebuerg, OGB-L) is the majority trade union - and the industry's employers' organisations. Alongside provisions on working time and pay, the agreement provided for establishment of an institute designed to provide opportunities for workers to acquire additional training;

New institute

When the 2000 collective agreement was signed, it was not clear how seriously the idea of setting up an institute to enable workers to undergo further training would be taken. However, a broad-based project ensued, involving both the definition of a general training policy and the creation a training establishment.

On 21 September 2002, the Federation of Construction and Civil Engineering Employers (Fédération des entreprises de construction et de génie civil) and the Building and Public Works Employers’ Group (Groupement des entrepreneurs du bâtiment et des travaux publics) announced the establishment of a new body called the Building Sector Training Institute (Institut de formation sectoriel du bâtiment, IFSB), to be situated in Le Krakelshaff, Bettembourg, 10 kilometres from the city of Luxembourg. The aim of this centre will be to deliver training and measures offering skills development to enterprises and employees.

This new body will be run by the Federation of Construction and Civil Engineering Employers, in association with various other organisations and the OGB-L and the Luxembourg Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (Lëtzebuerger Chrëschtleche Gewerkschafts-Bond, LCGB). It will operate in partnership with the Federation of Luxembourg Industrialists (Fédération des Industriels luxembourgeois, FEDIL), the Chamber of Private Sector White-Collar Staff (Chambre des employés privés, CEP) the Chamber of Commerce (Chambre du Commerce) the Chamber of Labour (Chambre du Travail), the Ministries of Vocational Training, Employment and Labour, and the Economy, and the Bettembourg local authority.

The IFSB will be managed by an association whose board of directors will be made up of representatives of each participating body. It will be funded by a mandatory annual levy of 0.65% on the total paybill of enterprises in the sector.

Objectives set by the social partners

The objective of the new institute will be to overcome the shortage of skilled labour in the building industry, and address the inappropriateness of the training currently available. The building sector makes extensive use of foreign labour, particularly Portuguese nationals, who do not always have the skills that employers require. The president of the Federation of Construction and Civil Engineering Employers has stated that 'for several years, all economic actors have acknowledged the importance of adapting their employees’ skills to ever-increasing demands, and we must keep abreast of the latest developments.'

The IFSB will have to respond to the challenges facing construction, a sector with some 400 enterprises employing 12,000 workers, and producing 7% of Luxemburg’s GDP. The new institute will seek to 'systematise' and 'professionalise' the industry, by offering basic training to new recruits, induction courses, specialist courses in a range of trades, and a separate level of training for specialists and senior company executives. The institute's educational objectives include the provision of courses that meet the requirements of the industry's collective agreement and the needs of the construction sector.

The director of the new body has said that the IFSB will be a key partner in the building sector ('a construction services centre'), and that it will also host conferences and seminars, and put out information through publications, reports and a magazine.

Commentary

There has been massive growth in vocational training in Luxembourg since its first National Action Plan (NAP) for employment, in response to the EU Employment Guidelines, was drawn up in 1998 (LU9805158F), and particularly since 1 January 2000 when such training began to be subsidised by the state.

A National Centre for Continuing Vocational Training (Centre National pour la Formation Professionnelle Continue, CNFPC) was opened in May 1999: its mission is to provide a multi-purpose structure for combating unemployment and promoting continuing vocational training. Within the framework of Luxembourg's 2001 NAP (LU0106168N), the Centre has organised vocational guidance and induction training courses for young people, and retraining and induction courses for adults, including packages for women wishing to re-enter the labour market, and complementary training tailored to the needs of enterprises and economic sectors.

Some believe that the CNFPC should also be used by the building sector in order to reduce costs. However, the sector has gone down the most difficult and most expensive path. This indicates what a great demand for additional training there is in the industry. It is to be hoped that the partners will make the necessary arrangements to ensure that large numbers of workers attend the courses that have been organised. (Marc Feyereisen)

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