An training fund of more than £86m is being made available to the construction industry to help it combat skilled staff shortages.
The UK’s construction industry needs to attract 380,000 new recruits over the next five years to meet employment demands.
To combat the shortfall, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has earmarked £86.5m as training grants for construction companies in 2003-04.
This is an extra £11.5m on top of last year’s funding, representing a 15 per cent increase.
The CITB has also announced a shake up of the grants system to enable employers to claim grants more easily and quickly.
CITB has removed the pre-approval process for short duration courses, meaning that waiting times for grants payment will be cut from several months to 30 days.
CITB chairman, Sir Michael Latham, said: "We want to get the message out to the industry that this money is available to help the entire industry up-skill for the future.
"We have responded to employer feedback by simplifying processes and reducing waiting times. There has never been a better time to train and claim," he said.