Choose change

Choose change

Choose changeToday sees the publication of Mark Farmer’s report on the construction industry. Titled Modernise or Die, it argues that construction faces an impending crisis, which it can only avert by embracing change.

His report follows two decades on from similarly hard-hitting reports by Sir Michael Latham in 1994 and Sir John Egan in 1998.  

But these are not the only landmarks from the 90s that are being revived 20 years on. February next year will see the release of Trainspotting 2 – some 21 years after its predecessor. And, in a sense, Mark Farmer is urging construction to ‘choose life, choose innovation, choose profitability but most importantly choose change’.

His report certainly makes a compelling case for change.  How our industry responds will only become clear in the coming months but looking just at the people issues, it’s clear we face a major challenge. 

Construction has an aging workforce, struggles to attract, develop and retain the skilled people it needs and will soon find it harder to recruit them from abroad.   

Part of the solution lies in finding better ways to do these things. But it’s also about finding new ways to deliver better outcomes with fewer people. 

Industry will need to lead this change but Farmer also issues a challenge to CITB to find new and better ways to support it.  These are issues that we have started to address. For example, a key area of planned reform is the levy-grant scheme. Currently, it supports many employers to invest in key areas such as apprenticeships, health and safety and upskilling. But it can and should do a lot more.

Today it is a cash machine that pays out the same day rate of £50 to everyone irrespective of their need and what type of training they are doing. Construction needs a new grant scheme that targets support at investing in the key skills that will generate industry-wide benefits and help to drive up performance.

We have been working with our industry to develop a new approach that will deliver this and will be sharing details on this early next year. 

But CITB must also be clearer on how else it will support construction to meet its skill needs. Our new business plan will have a laser-like focus on supporting our industry in three key areas – careers (attracting its future workforce and delivering career progression); helping it to develop the right standards and qualifications and ensuring that it can access the training and development that responds to its needs.

Again, we have been working our industry to develop it and next month will start to outline what it will mean in practice.

Earlier this month, our new Prime Minister used Sam Cooke’s famous protest song ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ as a motif in her conference speech. We look forward to being part of that change in construction.  

This article was originally published by Construction News.

About the author

Steve Radley is Director of Policy at CITB.

His previous roles include Director of Policy and External Affairs at the Manufacturers organisation, EEF, Chief Economist at the Henley Centre and Policy Adviser – Education and Training at the Confederation of British Industry.

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BDC July 2022 issue - 294

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