The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) today (Thursday 11 March) publishes the first sector-wide skills plan for construction, developed by Industry.

The Industry Skills Plan for the UK Construction Sector 2021-25 sets out the key skills challenges facing construction and how they will be tackled.  The plan sets out a series of clear actions and commitments for both industry and Government to help meet these challenges, grouped under the following four areas:

  • Careers
  • Standards and Qualifications
  • Training, Education and Development
  • Culture and Working Environment.

To improve the attractiveness of construction careers and access to them, a Talent View portal will be created, providing a one-stop-shop for new entrants and an industry standard for work experience will be put in place. In addition, up to 7,000 STEM Ambassadors will be encouraged to join the sector-specific Construction and Built Environment scheme, with a target of 1,700 fully supported by 2024.

A set of new construction traineeship programmes, and a pathway from Further Education into construction, will be developed in order to support and boost routes into the industry.

There will be a move to focus of competence by developing new competence frameworks. New training standards will be set in two areas: to support the drive towards Net Zero fossil fuel emissions; and for Smart Construction to develop digital and offsite construction skills.  The CLC also supports the drive towards increased direct employment. The plan supports Government mandates on direct employment through procurement.

Mark Reynolds, Group Chief Executive of Mace and CLC member, said: “This is the most ambitious and wide-ranging skills plan the construction sector has ever produced. It should have a far-reaching impact on how we attract, retain and develop people in construction and help deliver upon Government’s home-building and infrastructure plans.  “Many of the challenges we address in this plan will require a shared commitment over years, so the hard work starts now to deliver real and lasting change for the benefit of the whole sector.”

Commenting on the Plan FIS CEO, Iain McIlwee stated:  “There is some good thinking in the plan and, in the main, it is easy to support and uphold the principles it projects.  I do, however, have some concerns over the section on direct employment.  We would need to see drastic changes in procurement to enable businesses to employ more.  We maybe haven’t got the balance quite right, but with ridiculously short lead times, insufficient allowance in programmes and surge construction when the programme slips, flexibility is essential and that is before you look at the scale and geographic spread of projects in construction and the fact businesses are so easily cast aside in favour of a cheaper quote.

Employment is not the only way to ensure we have an engaged and evolving workforce, indeed the concept of employment has drastically changed in recent times with key tipping points like the introduction of CIS and the death of the final salary pension scheme changing the landscape .  We need to be careful of falling into the trap that PAYE is the only way and it was better because we used to employ everybody.  I am not convinced construction ever did in the conventional sense (remember the cards?) and there are areas like Health and Safety where we have been able to show marked success.  I think we should bring some academic rigour to this part of the plan to better understand the balance and impact on productivity and quality by utilising a freelance contingent and ensure that procurement focusses on how we respect, invest in, manage the competence of and supervise individuals rather than simply how we employ people.”

The plan sets out a series of clear actions and commitments for both industry and Government to help meet these challenges, grouped under the following four areas: Careers; Standards and Qualifications; Training, Education and Development; and Culture and Working Environment.  Commitments include:

  • Creating Talent View, a one-stop-shop portal for new entrants
  • Recruiting 7,000 construction STEM Ambassadors
  • Developing an industry standard for work experience
  • Producing competence frameworks
  • New training standards for Net Zero and Smart Construction
  • A pledge to promote direct employment

Details of how to get involved in these commitments will follow in the coming weeks.