THERE is no doubt that many across the construction industry expect The Construction Playbook to be a driver of truly transformational change. One thing that has resonated with national framework provider Pagabo is that ten of the 14 key policies outlined by the government fall within the first of the five phases of procurement.
With a goal of demystifying the Playbook, Pagabo is leading on a series of webinars over the coming months – the first of which saw executive chairman, Gerard Toplass, being joined by a panel of experts, including Jane O’Leary, strategic advisor for education at ISG; Peter Masonbrook, associate director at Faithful+Gould, and Jan Grant, managing director at ProQual.
As well as this, the panel was joined by Fergus Harradence, deputy director for infrastructure and construction at the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), who was involved in bringing the Construction Playbook to publication.
Gerard said: “One of the key focuses within the construction industry as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic is to ‘build back better’. The Construction Playbook is just one way in which the government is showing its commitment to doing this and will be one of the most important building blocks for us to do this – but it will take a joined-up effort from the whole industry.”
Cultural and behavioural change will be key
Many of the policies outlined in the Playbook will be underpinned by the need for behavioural change. This was highlighted by Peter Masonbrook of Faithful+Gould when it comes to social value and a ‘whole life’ approach. These are terms that the industry is extremely familiar with at this point, but there are still attitude changes needed.
There is an appetite from the public sector for social value measurement, but as professionals we need to be measuring that social impact beyond asset delivery. As we would measure ‘whole life costs’ from a capital point of view, we must be considering how the local community will benefit from our projects in years to come. The overriding driver of the Playbook is to maximise the benefit for the public purse – and the Playbook is a clear directive that this cannot stop the moment a project is handed over.
There has also been a clear direction of policy set out by the government when it comes to a widespread adoption of modern methods of construction (MMC) with recent legislation, with an expectation for wider adoption to permeate throughout the wider industry.
It is important to remember that MMC is not simply ‘big Lego’, but a wider term, embracing a range of manufacturing and construction techniques. Indeed, we are seeing this permeate throughout the industry – with Fergus highlighting the education and housing sectors as particularly strong but noting that other more complex areas of the industry may take longer due to their nature, such as infrastructure. However, the panel expect to see an acceleration of MMC throughout the industry – and as more clients and contractors embrace these methods, the quicker adoption will accelerate to a point where they are the primary options.
Again, this leans into the cultural and behavioural changes that continue to arise in conversations around the Construction Playbook. Jane O’Leary, strategic advisor education at ISG, highlighted that contractors must make sure that their cultures work with that of the client. Flexibility to client’s requirements must go beyond the project itself and into the way in which we collaborate.
The pandemic has shown that construction can prove its reputation wrong by adapting and responding very quickly when needed. A huge part of this has been thanks to digital technology and is an attitude that the industry cannot lose. As an industry, we are second only to agriculture when it comes to digitisation, and through adoption of technology we have the potential to see the kind of step change seen in the retail world during the 1990s – so we need to use the momentum built by the pandemic to drive this even further.
Training for the future – Playbook and beyond
It’s clear that truly delivering on the government’s agenda here goes beyond simply reading the Playbook. Fergus Harradance detailed the work being done by government to upskill people on the elements within the document to ensure that they are in the best position to adapt to it. The Playbook covers so much ground – taking you from the point where you decide what you want to build, to asset handover and beyond, as well as several key government agendas – so it’s clear that every organisation within the built environment is going to have to adapt its behaviour in some form in response.
As the panel agreed, there is a huge emphasis on changing culture and behaviour in order to deliver on the aims of the Playbook, but this goes beyond projects and processes. Jan Grant, managing director of awarding body ProQual, brought a fresh perspective to the discussion, focusing on the need to not just adapt the way the industry works – but how it learns too.
ProQual’s digital-led approach ties into the principles of the Construction Playbook, allowing a competency passport to be delivered that gives a visual confirmation of skills and competency, and corroborates the authenticity of an individual and their core skills.
The future emphasis, however, is for organisations like ProQual to work closely with the industry to identify what skills are needed, rather than dictate this. This is the only way to develop truly fit-for-purpose qualifications that help the industry progress. This in itself creates opportunity for the industry to lead, adapt and tackle issues quickly through training.
An example of this is the current need for recladding buildings following Grenfell, which is an ongoing process that would greatly benefit from more training specific to the task at hand. Through close collaboration, specific qualifications could be developed, accredited, and rolled out to deliver expertise to a specific issue. And another consideration would be to ensure that this – or any new qualification – allows for transferable skills to keep our skilled workers within the industry.
Gerard concluded: “To reflect the need for industry wide collaboration to deliver on the principles of the Construction Playbook, we’re really pleased to be bringing together expert panellists throughout this series of webinars on the topic. Together we must work through the challenges presented, find the opportunities and ultimately create a more efficient, productive and innovative industry for the future.”
The next webinar in the series – Radical transformation and raising standards through the Construction Playbook – will be held at 12pm on Friday 2 July, with the full panel to be announced soon. To register for your free ticket, please click here.