Construction is back, and over the next five years we expect strong, steady growth across the UK. Key to this will be advanced products, materials and processes, which can help transform the buildings and infrastructure where we live and work, making them safer, stronger and more efficient.
This is good news, but success depends on a construction workforce which is not only large enough, but properly skilled to use these innovative products and materials to best effect.
As explained in the HM Treasury report National Infrastructure Plan for Skills, whose findings were developed by an Infrastructure UK sub-committee chaired by Dr Diana Montgomery, Chief Executive of CPA, and supported by CITB:
“It’s not just more skilled people we need; it’s also a different blend of skills…to bring jobs and growth to all regions of the United Kingdom, essential to rebalance our economy.”
If we don’t achieve this, we are putting our future growth at risk, as well as the chance to bring thousands of talented people into construction, and revolutionise into a faster and more cost effective industry.
But if we can develop the right blend of skills, we can successfully deliver the iconic projects in the National Infrastructure Plan and the major expansion in homes Britain needs.
This is why CITB has worked in close partnership with CPA on this report, which draws on the knowledge of 23 corporate members and trade associations supporting thousands of construction employers throughout Great Britain. The research finds that a lack of skilled staff, outdated qualifications, an ageing workforce, insufficient high-calibre candidates coming into construction, and difficulty accessing skills funding are all holding the industry back.
We have to create more relevant qualifications, a greater number of apprenticeships and better continued professional development of the existing workforce to tackle these issues. Together with CPA, we will take forward the report’s recommendations to:
Increase collaboration with information and guidance for membership organisations on how to work more closely with relevant sector bodies to support their members’ skills needs.
Signpost available skills funding to ensure employers can clearly and easily access funding for training.
Link training to qualifications defined by employers and fit for purpose for industry, to make training more relevant.
We need to work together to grasp this challenge. The future of our industry – and our nation’s built environment – depends on it.
[NOTE: ‘Skills Report 2015’ – produced with support from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) – is the third in a series of projects that the CPA is contributing to understand skills and materials constraints facing the industry. It maps the large number of training activities which Association members currently run, particularly for ‘product-users’, and recommends a new process to align that training to recognised qualifications.]