Apprenticeship numbers in the joinery and woodworking industry could suffer a “catastrophic collapse” if the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) was axed, according to a leading trade body.

The British Woodworking Federation (BWF) has said that apprenticeship numbers could be at risk if the government’s proposed apprentice levy goes ahead.

Joinery and woodworking, which delivers a third of all apprenticeships in construction, has the highest ratio of apprentices of all specialist construction trades.

BWF chief executive Iain McIIwee said that any change to the levy would need to be “natural evolution, not short-sighted revolution”.

“The new proposed apprentice levy is shrouded with uncertainty,” he said.

“How it will be balanced across the UK, how it reconciles with the existing CITB Levy, how it will be collected and returned and, fundamentally, who will have to pay. Uncertainty makes it more difficult to make positive long-term decisions.”

Mr McIllwee said that he was not opposed to a levy, but that the BWF was “opposed to two”.

“We still need the CITB and any new levy should be built around CITB rather than seeking to replace it,” he added.