The City of London Corporation has unveiled a new Skills for a Sustainable Skyline Taskforce which will look at defining and addressing skills gaps around the construction, retrofit and maintenance of low carbon commercial buildings in Central London boroughs.

The taskforce will run for three years and will be chaired by Deputy Chairman of the City Corporation’s Policy and Resources Committee, Chris Hayward. City Property Association (CPA)’s Chief Executive, Charles Begley, will serve as Deputy Chair.

FIS Chief Executive Iain McIlwee has a place on the Strategy Steering Board, which will support the Taskforce Chair, Chris Hayward CC, and Taskforce Deputy Chair, Charles Begley, in shaping the Taskforce’s strategic outputs and influence. Working in collaboration, they will ensure that the Taskforce addresses skills gaps relating to low carbon commercial buildings across Central London.

It comes in response to the findings of a poll of over 100 industry professionals which revealed:

  • 91% said the commercial built environment sector lacks sufficient skilled workers to achieve net zero targets;
  • 80% believed a lack of workplace diversity is an issue for the sector; and
  • 87% agreed that there is a growing ‘green skills’ gap in the commercial built environment.

The taskforce will support the aims of the City Corporation’s radical Climate Action Strategy which commits to net-zero carbon emissions across the City Corporation’s operations by 2027, and to support the achievement of net zero for the Square Mile by 2040.

It will bring together leaders from across the commercial built environment, including representation from local authorities, central Government, employers, industry bodies and training providers.

Chair of the Skills for a Sustainable Skylines Taskforce and Deputy Chair of the City Corporation’s Policy and Resource Committee, Chris Hayward, said:

“Central London urgently needs a larger skilled workforce to decarbonise its commercial buildings and this taskforce will lead the way in finding solutions to fill this skills gap.

“We must work at pace to attract new talent as well as upskill and reskill the existing workforce as we look to meet our ambitious climate action goals.

“The areas which we have identified as having the greatest scope for improvement are the full development lifecycle, including design, retrofit, construction and maintenance.”

Deputy Chair of the Skills for a Sustainable Skylines Taskforce and Chief Executive of the City Property Association, Charles Begley, said:

“Advances in technology and innovation are opening up a wider range of job opportunities within the built environment, with the drive towards greater sustainability being embedded from financing to fit-out, as well as the long term operation of a building. However, there is evidence of a growing skills gap which threatens to impede progress in achieving London’s net zero carbon targets.

“We need to understand the barriers in attracting the diverse workforce the industry requires, and find solutions to help promote the reskilling and upskilling of existing workers, whilst raising career awareness amongst Londoners, particularly those from underrepresented demographic backgrounds.”

The taskforce’s Strategy Steering Board, which will be responsible for defining the overall strategy, influence and outputs, is made up of the following 15 industry leaders:

  • Bola Abisogun OBE, Founder & Chairman, DiverseCity Surveyors
  • Tim Balcon, Chief Executive Officer, Construction Industry Training Board
  • Julia Barrett, Chief Sustainability Officer, Willmott Dixon
  • David Frise, Group Chief Executive Officer, Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and Member of Executive Group, Actuate UK
  • Martin Gettings, Vice President – Portfolio Management, Real Estate, Brookfield
  • Alison Gowman, Trustee, Trust for London
  • Emma Hoskyn, UK Head of Sustainability, JLL
  • Sir Stuart Lipton, Co-Founder and Partner, Lipton Rogers
  • Carol Lynch, Chief Executive, Construction Youth Trust
  • Iain McIlwee, Chief Executive Officer, Finishes and Interiors Sector (FIS)
  • Fiona Morey, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Compulsory and Further Education), London South Bank University
  • Benjamin O’Connor, Director, New London Architecture
  • Stephen Pomeroy, Founder and Chief Executive, BECG
  • Hannah Vickers, Chief of Staff, Mace
  • Danna Walker, Founder, Built By Us

After 2025, the taskforce is expected to share the research and lessons learned with other UK regions which have high concentrations of commercial buildings – including Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester and Glasgow.