Flexi-job apprenticeships

Flexi-job apprenticeships

The new flexi-job apprenticeship schemes were announced by the Chancellor in the last Budget. It is proposed that the schemes will build on the existing Apprenticeship Training Agency model, to allow employers to join forces and access funding to create new or expand existing schemes to boost the use of apprenticeships in sectors with non-traditional employment patterns, including construction.

The Department for Education (DfE) will launch the flexi-job apprenticeships fund in July 2021 with employers set to be invited to bid for a share of a £7 million fund to create and test new flexi-apprenticeships schemes, with the first approved flexi-job apprenticeships expected to start in January 2022.

A consultation seeking views on DfE vision and operating framework for flexi-job apprenticeship schemes as a means to increase the use of apprenticeships in certain sectors and professions. Apprenticeships are more important than ever in equipping individuals and businesses with the skills they need as we build back better from the coronavirus outbreak. Government want to make sure apprenticeships reflect modern models of employment for all employers in all sectors. They are developing portable apprenticeships, putting apprentices in the driving seat and enabling them to move between employers in industries where short-term contracts are the norm. This consultation asks you to consider how flexi-job apprenticeship schemes can support the growth of apprenticeships in sectors where short-term and project-based contracts are the norm. To complete the survey please go to: Flexi-Job Apprenticeships: Reshaping the role of Apprenticeship Training Agencies – Page 1 of 7 – Department for Education – Citizen Space

The consultation will run for six weeks, closing on 1 June 2021.

Help shape the future of construction skills

Help shape the future of construction skills

Nation Council Chair vacancies: Help shape the future of construction skills

CITB is seeking senior, experienced and knowledgeable industry representatives for its Nation Council Chair in England and Scotland.

The Nation Councils have an important role in supporting the CITB Board in its strategic leadership, by providing insight into industry challenges, across nations, regions and sectors and acting as a sounding board for Trustees.  Applications are invited from across the industry, including SMEs, large employers, and independent consultants.  The Nation Council Chair will help shape the future of construction as the industry begins to emerge from the shadow of the pandemic and adapt to new challenges, including Brexit and achieving Net Zero targets.  They will:

  • Capture and articulate to the Board key issues affecting or likely to affect industry;
  • Assist the Board to accurately prioritise support for key issues affecting industry across Great Britain;
  • Help review and advise the Board on CITB’s Business Plan to ensure that it addresses industry opportunities, pressures and priorities;
  • Shape individual Nations Plans and to review performance against them; and
  • Make recommendations to the Board about extraordinary matters arising that may impact on the ability of the Board to deliver the Plan.

Interested candidates should have a wealth of senior level experience in the sector and represent the voice of industry. It is essential that the Chair has a sound knowledge and understanding of both their nation and the wider construction landscape.

CITB Policy Director Stephen Radley said: “The role of Nation Council Chair is challenging and incredibly rewarding and represents the perfect opportunity for someone with industry insight and an understanding of the challenges facing the sector to make their mark.  To fill the shoes of our current Chairs will be no easy task but we know the construction industry is full of incredibly talented people who I know will rise to the task.”

CITB is also recruiting independent members of its Audit and Risk, and Industry Funding committees.  Anyone interested in applying for the vacancies should visit: http://sscl-innovation.com/CITBmicrosite/volunteering/

FIS launches Specifiers Guide for Ceilings and Acoustic Absorbers

FIS launches Specifiers Guide for Ceilings and Acoustic Absorbers

The Finishes and Interiors Sector (FIS) has launched a Specifiers’ GuideCeilings and Acoustic Absorbers to help a project team fully understand the criteria when writing a specification for a suspended ceiling or acoustic absorber.

The Specifiers’ Guide – Ceilings and Acoustic Absorbers was produced by the FIS Ceilings and Absorbers working group which comprises representation from manufacturers, suppliers and contractors involved in the design, supply and construction of ceiling systems. It is intended to guide architects, designers and installers through the criteria in selecting and specifying a suspended ceiling and acoustic absorber that will satisfy the performance needs of an internal space while providing the desired visual effect.

Commenting on the guide, Iain McIlwee, Chief Executive of the FIS said: “This guide, written by industry specialists, pulls together decades of experience from specification managers who almost instinctively know the questions on all aspects – from performance, material characteristics, sustainability and environmental, conformity marking, installation, maintenance and end of life.

The guide addresses what a good specification looks like and how it should be structured, it even includes 10 top tips to producing a specification. It then breaks down the key performance issues around fire and acoustics and the other issues of volatile organic compounds, light reflectance, impact resistance, air permeability, wind loading, sustainability and conformity marking.

“In total, there are 36 parameters to consider to ensure a safe, compliant and complete specification. This is crucial if the specification is not to be misinterpreted and any alternatives assessed and checked as equal before approving them,” added Iain McIlwee.

The guide sits alongside other FIS best practice guides that relate to ceilings:

Site Guide for suspended ceilings

Installation of suspended ceilings

Selection and installation of top fixings for suspended ceilings

Maintenance and access into suspended ceilings

Recommendations for the Safe Ingress of Plasterboard

Health and safety handbook

These guides work well when they are included in proposals and project plans to demonstrate how to best approach a project. They are also good differentiators when someone is in competition with non-members, and are an excellent introduction to new members of the team and any trainees and apprentices.

You can download the Specifiers’ Guide – Ceilings and Acoustic Absorbers here.

For further information or for any questions and comments contact us via email at info@thefis.org or call 0121 707 0077.

Construction’s Net Zero Carbon business champions announced

Construction’s Net Zero Carbon business champions announced

Champions from across the UK’s construction industry have come together today to declare their commitment to support CO2nstructZero, the construction industry’s response to the climate emergency.

Announced at UK Construction Week, the Business Champions initiative enables companies to be role models in this industry change programme. They demonstrate a commitment towards the sector’s drive towards reducing carbon emissions in the delivery and operation of the built environment. The first 14 companies have been drawn from across the UK’s construction supply chain; and selected by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC).

Companies who want to be business champions are encouraged to commit to CO2nstructZero, and can apply to become a Business Champion in an ongoing monthly recruitment drive.

As part of this industry change programme, business champions will work alongside the CLC and other major industry bodies to share innovations and best practice, acting as promotors and role models to support the industry’s move to Net Zero Carbon.

FIS Chief Executive Iain McIlwee commented: “FIS is keen to get behind and support this work and has already established a working group and is drafting in additional resources to support radical scale up of our focus in this area.  As part of our programme which will be announced over the summer, we are encouraging FIS Members to nominate business champions via FIS so we can help co-ordinate with CLC and support this race to Net Zero and what we believe will be a key part of transforming our supply chain for the better”.

From regional builders’ merchants to major global firms, the first 14 companies span the entire industry; including major contractors, consultants, architects, engineers, materials suppliers and specialist subcontractors; and between them are responsible for the delivery of billions of pounds of construction work across the UK.

Each organisation has made a commitment that they will share tangible evidence of their net zero carbon plans against the nine CO2nstructZero priorities, contribute to the CO2nstructZero industry reporting process and work together to support companies in the sector to develop their own plans.

Andrew Griffith MP, the UK Net Zero Business Champion and Chair of the CO2nstructZero Advisory Board, said: “This is a hugely significant moment for the UK’s construction industry. As we look towards COP26 later this year, the whole sector must work together to drive real change. From global UK companies to the smallest local businesses, our business champions represent the best of the sector and will play a key role in helping to drive transformational change in how we deliver the built environment.

“We cannot deliver our ambitious national Net Zero Carbon ambitions without changing how we build – and our business champions will set a fantastic example for others to follow.”

From investing in the development of low carbon concrete to the adoption of electric vehicle fleets and using low carbon energy sources to heat homes, each of the Business Champions is committed to driving industry change in their specialist area and are working on projects across the country that are transforming the delivery and operation of the built environment.

The 14 Business Champions are:
• Keltbray
• Mace
• Mid Group
• Multiplex
• Laing O’Rourke
• Arcadis
• Bradfords Building Supplies
• Travis Perkins
• APP Wholesale
• ACO Technologies
• AICO
• RLB
• Turner & Townsend
• Buro Happold

You can find out more about the business champions at https://www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/news/constructions-net-zero-carbon-business-champions-announced/

CITB Year End Progress Report

CITB Year End Progress Report

CITB has published its End of Year Progress Report.  This performance report shows progress against a plan reprioritised significantly when the pandemic hit back in March 2020.  CITB has indicated that they will continue to develop the simpler, more targeted plan and new delivery approaches (including the focus on digital), into this year’s business plan.

Highlights identified in the plan included:

  • suspending Levy collection as businesses faced critical cash challenges.
  • offering an advanced apprenticeship grant which saw £3.4 million paid to over 2,000 employers.
  • providing e-learning and remote working, with remote learning and new courses ensuring qualifications were not a barrier to returning to work.
  • Offering Covid-19 support which saw 21,800 people complete our pandemic health and safety eCourse

Encouragingly, as few as 248 out of 11,000 CITB’s apprentices were made redundant during the pandemic. More than half of those that were made redundant have been placed with alternative employers to help get them to completion, and CITB continues to support others who have not been successfully replaced to restart their apprenticeship. CITB grants have supported 23,322 apprentices, and 8,883 employers.

Employers proved to be much more resilient than expected in the reforecast at the outset of the pandemic meaning Levy receipts were significantly higher than envisaged and a total of £122.5m was collected.  The excess of £48.7m will be carried forward and used on Grants Scheme and funding programmes in 2021-22 when Levy income is anticipated to be approximately £96m less than a normal year.

Grants and funding expenditure was £5.5m below forecast, however demand for advanced apprenticeship grants held up better than expected.  Direct support costs for apprentices was also above plan, by £9.7m, making overall investment in apprentices £89.3m, £16.7m above plan. This was part-funded by lower than forecast claims of grants and funding (£14.5m) and savings in operating costs (£4.1m).

George Swann, Skills and Training Lead at FIS stated:  “This report quantifies CITB’s activities between April 2020 and March 2021, the executive summary provides a snapshot.  The detail gives an indication of what grants and funding employers can and should apply for and if the bid is aligned to the statements in this report you should be successful.  If you need assistance the FIS Skills and Funding Clinic will help, just fill in the form at: https://www.thefis.org/registration-form/ and we will contact you.”

You can access the report here.

Your support needed: drylining training materials

Your support needed: drylining training materials

FIS is working to support an increase in availability, quality an uptake of apprenticeships in the sector to help address labour shortages linked to the new immigration system.  We need the sector to rally to help accelerate this work.

We are particularly keen at the moment to get sight of any materials, documents, folders, electronic data and images that are being or have been used to deliver training for Dry Liners (from suppliers to support their customers, training providers or internal resources from contractors).  At this stage, absolutely anything and everything you send will be considered and possibly used in the production of a single standardised trainer package that can be accessed by all FIS Approved Training Providers and Employer members.  The aim is to ensure a consistent standard of training is delivered across the UK and that employers will know what to expect from and how to support training providers.

If you have anything that you feel can be used to support (links, files, documents, animations, videos, youtube clips etc) please email to georgeswann@thefis.org or post to FIS, Olton Bridge, 245 Warwick Road, Solihull, B92 7AH.  There is a specific package produced by CITB around 2007 that we are particularly keen to get our hands on.  The inside cover contains a CD and this has been identified as a good starting point for reviewing and updating the core Dry Lining training support materials, if you can copy or send this to FIS, it would be a great help.   Many thanks in anticipation and any questions, please don’t hesitate to call us on 0121 707 0077.

An image of a similar the pack

We have also set up an employers group to support the development of the Interior Systems Installer Apprenticeship and Drylining Apprenticeship in Scotland – the next meeting is set for 19 May – if you are interested in attending, you can register to attend here.

Thanks in advance from your support and please don’t hesitate to contact George Swann me with any questions, comments or thoughts.

Help and advice to help to minimise the risk of a cyber attack

Help and advice to help to minimise the risk of a cyber attack

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has recently launched its Small Organisations Newsletter. SMEs cover a huge range of businesses and make up 99% of all business in the UK. Often SMEs do not have the budget of large organisations to spend on cyber security. This Newsletter aims to break down cyber related issues into bitesize pieces which can be read in your coffee break. The NCSC wants to arm you and your business with the advice and tools to minimise the risk of a cyber attack. Each month will cover a different topic and will offer advice and links to further information.

What is the NCSC?

The NCSC was set up in 2016 to make the UK the safest place to live and work online. They support the most critical organisations in the UK, the wider public sector, industry, SMEs as well as the general public. When incidents do occur, the NCSC provides effective incident response to minimise harm to the UK, help with recovery, and learning lessons for the future.

How to sign up

You can sign up to the newsletter using this link

Business Risk Management Tool

FIS has produced a Business Risk Management Tool to support contractors and help them adopt a structured approach to understanding risk and reducing uncertainty.  The tool identifies over 120 common risk areas for contractors against the categories including Information Management, Business Management, Contractual, Financial, Quality, H&S and Procurement,  providing a mechanism to score and rank risk and advice on mitigation and management.  A risk management matrix ranks risk in term of probability of an event occurring and the severity of the impact should the event occur. It can be used to identify and prioritise activity so that a contractor can then make informed business decisions and improve their resilience.

The Risk Management Tool is available to download free for members of the FIS community here – FIS Business Risk Management Tool.

The FIS Digital Toolkit

The FIS Digital Toolkit helps your navigate through the confusion and find the digital tools that work for your business – access the FIS Digital Toolkit Here

New Market Surveillance requirements for Economic Operators

New Market Surveillance requirements for Economic Operators

Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 – Market surveillance and compliance of products amending Directive 2004/42/EC, Regulations (EC) No. 765/2008 and (EU) 305/2011 (the EU-CPR) comes into full effect on 16 July 2021. However, Articles 29-33 and 36 applied from 1 January 2021. The whole of the new legislation will apply to Northern Ireland (so long as the NI Protocol is in place) and the EU. The Regulation can be viewed here.

This legislation extends the market surveillance requirements industry has become used to under existing regulations. While the Regulation is primarily about the consistency and coordination of market surveillance, there are also a few new requirements for businesses to action to help authorities trace products from manufacture to end user. These requirements only apply to certain products and when there is no manufacturer, authorised representative or importer already based in NI or the EU. The products covered by this new Regulation include:

  • Construction products
  • Eco-design
  • Gas appliances
  • Machinery
  • Low voltage electrical equipment
  • Radio equipment
  • Restricting hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment
  • Pressure equipment
  • Simple pressure vessels
  • Numerous others – see legislation Article 4(5) for a list of Regulations covered.

The economic operators the legislation covers are:

  • Manufacturers established within and outside the EU (including NI)
  • Importers
  • Authorised Representatives
  • Fulfilment service providers* where none of the above three economic operators named above is established in the EU (including NI).

[Note: * – Any natural or legal person offering, in the course of a commercial activity, at least two of the following services:

  • Warehousing
  • Packaging
  • Addressing & dispatching without having ownership of the products, excluding postal services, parcel delivery services and any other postal services or freight transport services.]

Regulation Requirements

A product can only be placed on the market if there is an economic operator established in the EU (includes NI) who is responsible for the following tasks:

  • Verifying that the DOP or a DOC (for non-construction products) and technical documentation have been drawn up
  • Keeping the DOP or DOC at the disposal of the market surveillance authority (MSA) for the required period set out in the respective legislation (10 years for the EU-CPR)
  • Ensuring that the technical documentation can be made available to the MSA upon request
  • Provide the MSA with any information they request to demonstrate conformity of products in the appropriate language
  • If they believe that a product poses a risk, to inform the MSA
  • To cooperate with the MSA over corrective action as required.

The legislation does not stipulate whether these tasks have to be allocated to one economic operator or can be shared between more than one economic operator.  Also, The regulation does not require an authorised representative to be appointed for each product.

The key changes / new requirements of the legislation  (greater detail can be gleaned by reading the appropriate articles in their entirety)

  • Article 4(4) Tasks of economic operators

The name, registered trade name or registered trade mark and contact details, including postal address, of the economic operators named above shall be indicated on the product or its packaging, the parcel or an accompanying document.

  • Article 6 Distance sales

Products offered for sale online or through other means of distance sales shall be deemed to be made available on the market if the offer is targeted at an end user within the EU.

  • Article 15 Recovery of costs by market surveillance authorities

In cases of non-compliance, Member States may authorise market surveillance authorities to reclaim from the relevant economic operator the total cost of their activities.

  • Article 25 Controls on products entering the EU market

Customs Authorities can be designated as the authority controlling a products entry to the EU market.

  • Article 29 Union Product Compliance Network

The Network shall serve to provide structured coordination and cooperation between enforcement authorities within the Member States and the European Commission.

  • Article 40

In Article 56(1) of Regulation 305/2011 (the EU-CPR), the first subparagraph is replaced by the following:

Replacement Text Original Text in the EU-CPR

(provided for comparison purposes only)

Where the market surveillance authorities of one Member State have sufficient reason to believe that a construction product covered by a harmonised standard or for which a European Technical Assessment has been issued does not achieve the declared performance and presents a risk for the fulfilment of the basic requirements for construction works covered by this Regulation, they shall carry out an evaluation in relation to the product concerned covering the respective requirements laid down by this Regulation. The relevant economic operators shall cooperate as necessary with the market surveillance authorities. Where the market surveillance authorities of one Member State have taken action pursuant to Article 20 of Regulation (EC) 765/2008 or where they have sufficient reason to believe that a construction product covered by a harmonised standard or for which a European Technical Assessment has been issued does not achieve the declared performance and presents a risk for the fulfilment of the basic requirements for construction works covered by this Regulation, they shall carry out an evaluation in relation to the product concerned covering the respective requirements laid down by this Regulation. The relevant economic operators shall cooperate as necessary with the market surveillance authorities.
  • The activities of market surveillance authorities have been enhanced as has their administration system and their harmonisation across national boundaries. Control of products entering the EU market have similarly been increased.

 

 

Government Consultation: Rating Energy Performance of Commercial Buildings

Government Consultation: Rating Energy Performance of Commercial Buildings

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has opened a consultation on introducing a performance-based policy framework in large commercial and industrial buildings. This consultation sets out the government’s proposals to introduce a national performance-based policy framework for rating the energy and carbon performance of commercial and industrial buildings above 1,000m² in England and Wales, with annual ratings and mandatory disclosure as the first step. The consultation closes on 9 June.

In the impact assessment document it is asserted that information failures, behavioural barriers and split incentives, mean the operational performance of commercial and industrial buildings in terms of how well they use energy, is inefficiently poor, and not net zero consistent. This causes overuse of energy, and hence higher Green House Gas emissions. A key part of resolving this is having a consistent means of assessing buildings’ operational performance.  Existing measures of building performance, such as the Energy Performance Certificate, do not adequately reflect their real performance, and this is particularly acute for larger buildings. Government intervention is required as this information must be developed at the level of the entire stock, and existing market-driven interventions cover a small minority of the stock.

The consultation is in 2 parts:

The impact assessment accompanies the Phase One: Office Sector consultation and provides supporting analysis on the proposals.

We welcome responses from all contributors with an interest in these proposals, but would like to hear in particular from:

  • owners and tenants of commercial and industrial buildings above 1,000m²
  • investors, asset managers and lenders
  • energy consultants
  • facilities management companies
  • businesses involved in retrofit of these buildings
  • the wider market

For more information and how to respond

For more information and to respond to the consultation click here.  If you are responding, it would be helpful if you could direct key points to FIS to support any response we make on behalf of the community.  Key questions from the consultation are provided below.

Consultation Questions

  1. Do you have any evidence which supports, disputes, or could add to, the evidence presented by the Government in this chapter? In terms of the evidence presented in this chapter, do you support the Government’s analysis?
  2. Do you support the rationale set out in this chapter? If so, are there any changes you would make or considerations you would add to the rationale the Government has set out? If not, could you please explain why, providing evidence where possible.
  3. Do you support the Government’s proposal to underpin a performance-based policy framework with a rating that looks to modernise the DEC, in the ways set out above? If so, are there any changes you would make or considerations you would add to the proposal? If not, could you please explain why, providing evidence where possible.
  4. The Government proposes that, as a first step, building owners and single tenants should be required to obtain an annual performance-based rating, and disclose that rating online. Do you support this proposition? If so, are there any changes or amendments you would make to the proposal? If not, could you please explain why, providing evidence where possible.
  5. What is the best way to support Small and Medium Enterprises in obtaining annual performance based ratings, where the owner of the building or the single tenant is an SME?
  6. Should the Government:
  • Allow owners of buildings above 1,000m² to use their annual performance-based rating to satisfy their existing regulatory obligation to present a valid EPC before a building is sold or let. As set out above, under this option the Government would continue to collect data about fabric and service improvements. Where prospective buyers or tenants want information about the building fabric and services, EPCs can be obtained on a voluntary basis.
  • Continue to require owners of buildings above 1,000m² to present a valid EPC where the building is sold or let, recognising that the EPC and a performance-based rating assess different things, and can collectively provide a better level of information about the building than either rating would in isolation.

Please outline your preferred option and your reasoning, providing evidence where possible. Please set out any changes or amendments you would make to the options, or if you would favour a different option. An appraisal of the benefits and risks of both options, providing evidence where possible, would help inform the Government’s decision making.

  1. Recognising that the Government has committed to review the threshold for each sector, do you consider 1,000m² to be a sensible starting position for determining which buildings should be required to obtain annual performance-based ratings?
  2. Should the Government consider expanding the performance-based rating to cover factors such as water, waste and indoor air quality? What do you consider would be the benefits of this approach? Would there be any drawbacks?
  3. Has the Government identified what you consider to be the right objectives for a successful delivery model?
  4. Do you support the Government’s proposal that the annual rating should not be accompanied by recommendations for improving the rating? If so, are there any changes you would make or considerations you would add to the proposal? If not, could you please explain why, providing evidence where possible.
  5. Do you support the Government’s proposal that exemptions should be limited to a relatively few buildings? Are there any grounds for an exemption that you feel are appropriate, which the Government has not considered? Ahead of the findings from the Government’s research project we also welcome views on how the requirement to obtain and disclose an annual rating could be enforced most effectively.
  6. Are there any considerations you would like to add to the Government’s analysis of the factors that are likely to drive improvements in ratings? Do you support the Government’s proposals to improve ratings from day one?
  7. Do you consider that linking a clear financial incentive, or disincentive, to annual performance[1]based ratings would be an effective way to drive improvements in those ratings?
  8. What do you consider would be the impact of the incentives and interventions that have been suggested? Are there ways you think those incentives or interventions could be made more effective? Are there other incentives or interventions that the Government has not considered here, which you believe would be more effective at ensuring ratings improve over time?
  9. Do you agree with the Government’s assessment and preferred approach? Please provide evidence or case studies, where possible, in your response.
  10. Do you agree that flexible energy use should be a core component of the rating? What is the best way, technically, to reflect flexible energy use in the rating structure?
  11. Do you agree with the Government’s preferred option to use a star rating format? Are there any formats which the Government has not considered that you believe could be more effective?
  12. The Government welcomes feedback on the considerations outlined above. What are the key factors that the Government should consider in determining fair and effective rating benchmarks and a fair and effective rating scale? Where possible, please provide evidence, or case studies, to support your feedback.
  13. Subject to the outcome of this consultation, the government will work with the ratings administrator, and with industry experts, to tailor the framework appropriately to each sector. At this stage, the Government welcomes any additional feedback on the high-level technical considerations outlined in this chapter, especially where there may be key considerations that we may have not addressed, or not been able to cover. Where possible, it would be helpful if you could provide evidence and case studies to support your response.
Employer representative bodies needed to pilot local skills improvement plans

Employer representative bodies needed to pilot local skills improvement plans

Employer representative bodies are being asked by government to step forward and lead pilots for new local skills improvement plans (LSIP).  First mooted in the FE white paper, the plans will aim to make colleges align the courses they offer to local employers’ needs.

They are hoped to address concerns that employers do not currently have enough influence over the skills provision offered in their locality and struggle to find staff to fill their skills gaps.  Keith Smith, the director for post-16 strategy at the Department for Education, told an FE Week webcast last month that new legislation is being worked on to enable the education secretary to intervene where colleges refuse to deliver courses decided through LSIPs.  Led by “established employer representative bodies”, such as chambers of commerce, as a Trade Body FIS is an Employer Representative Body, the plans will be piloted in six to eight trailblazer areas this year, backed with £4 million of revenue funding.  The funding must be spent by the end of March 2022.

In application guidance published last week, the Department for Education said the plans will “set out the key changes needed to make technical skills training more responsive to employers’ skills needs within a local area”.  They should be created in collaboration with colleges and training providers, with employers setting out a credible and evidence-based assessment of their skills needs, to which providers will be empowered to respond.  The plans will help ensure provision is more responsive to emerging and changing skills needs and being locally driven, can be tailored to the challenges and opportunities most relevant to the area, the guidance added.  In the longer-term, the government hopes LSIPs will support and complement its reforms to the FE funding system, which will give providers more autonomy to use government funding to meet the skills needs of local employers.

In return, the DfE adds, we will reform the accountability system to focus less on process and more on the effectiveness of provider performance and the outcomes they achieve.  By taking a more outcome-focused approach, providers will be incentivised to continually review their provision to ensure it leads to meaningful employment for their learners, scaling back where there is an oversupply of provision and expanding other areas in line with agreed LSIP priorities, the department continues.  The plans will be put on a statutory footing and DfE promises to “develop an accountability structure for local areas to ensure that providers are engaging in the process and contributing to actions they have agreed.

George Swann, FIS Skills and Training Lead says: this is great news, it means colleges will be duty bound to provide training and qualifications that meet local employer demand. I encourage FIS employer members to get involved with this, get together and tell us what you expect from your local college what skills you need to support your business.

Have your say on flexi-job apprenticeship schemes

Have your say on flexi-job apprenticeship schemes

The new flexi-job apprenticeship schemes were announced by the Chancellor in the last Budget.  It is proposed that the schemes will build on the existing Apprenticeship Training Agency model, to allow employers to join forces and access funding to create new or expand existing schemes to boost the use of apprenticeships in sectors with non-traditional employment patterns, including construction.  DfE will launch the flexi-job apprenticeships fund in July 2021 with employers set to be invited to bid for a share of a £7 million fund to create and test new flexi-apprenticeships schemes, with the first approved flexi-job apprenticeships expected to start in January 2022.

A consultation seeking views on DfE vision and operating framework for flexi-job apprenticeship schemes as a means to increase the use of apprenticeships in certain sectors and professions.  Apprenticeships are more important than ever in equipping individuals and businesses with the skills they need as we build back better from the coronavirus (covid-19) outbreak.  Government want to make sure apprenticeships reflect modern models of employment for all employers in all sectors.  They are developing portable apprenticeships, putting apprentices in the driving seat and enabling them to move between employers in industries where short-term contracts are the norm.  This consultation asks you to consider how flexi-job apprenticeship schemes can support the growth of apprenticeships in sectors where short-term and project-based contracts are the norm.  To complete the survey please go to:  Flexi-Job Apprenticeships: Reshaping the role of Apprenticeship Training Agencies – Page 1 of 7 – Department for Education – Citizen Space

This flexi-job apprenticeship consultation will close on 1 June 2021.

George Swann said: “This scheme has potential for encouraging employers in the finishes and interiors sector to collaborate in the training of apprentices.  Although the focus is on the duration of the apprenticeship programme, a Flexi-job apprenticeship could provide individuals with more variety than they may get when working with a single employer, which could ensure they cover every criteria listed in the Apprenticeship Standard prior to the end test.  FIS will keep a watchful eye on this as it develops.  Please take a few minutes to complete the survey”.

Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012: Post-implementation review

Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012: Post-implementation review

From May 2021 HSE will be seeking the views of a wide range of stakeholders about the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. This exercise is part of a second post implementation review (PIR) of the regulations, following the first PIR published in 2017.

The review will seek to establish if the regulations continue to meet their objectives, remain appropriate and are still the best means to minimise exposure to asbestos.

The exercise, using an online survey, will open in late May. Look out for further details next month.

Stress Talking Toolkit launched for construction sector

Stress Talking Toolkit launched for construction sector

Developed with the help of industry stakeholders, HSE has published a work-related Stress Talking Toolkit for the construction sector.

Starting the conversation is an important first step in preventing work-related stress, and the toolkit will help to do that.

This is the first time HSE has produced something specifically for the construction industry on work-related stress. The industry has introduced its own initiatives to help promote positive mental health and support those in need. The new toolkit builds on this work and is a key part of a wider approach to managing mental health on construction sites.

The toolkit is primarily aimed at small and medium sized businesses with a regular workforce (employed and contracted) who wish to be proactive in addressing this issue. However, it is a flexible tool that can be used across the whole industry. Download the Talking Toolkit and find out more about work-related stress at https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/

EU Settled Status deadline approaching

EU Settled Status deadline approaching

Workers from the EU or EEA who were living in the UK before 31 December 2020 that wish to continue living and working in the UK without a visa from 1 July need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021. Workers will receive settled or pre‐settled status depending on how long they have been living in the UK when they apply.

Whilst it is the responsibility of the individual to submit an application, businesses may wish to provide support to their employees, and there is a comprehensive pack for employers containing a range of useful resources you can share with employees to help them apply.

New super‐deduction capital allowance

New super‐deduction capital allowance

From 1 April 2021 until 31 March 2023, companies investing in qualifying new plant and machinery assets will be able to claim a 130% super‐deduction capital allowance and a 50% first‐year allowance for qualifying special rate assets. This will allow companies to reduce their tax bill by up to 25p for every £1 they invest. Qualifying plant and machinery include lorries and vans, ladders, drills and cranes, as well as computer equipment and servers, and office chairs and desks.

With much of the UK’s productivity gap attributable to low levels of business investment, the Government is hoping that the super‐deduction will give companies a strong incentive to bring planned investments forward and make additional investments. Further information can be found in the Government’s factsheet.

New manual published to support flexible apprenticeships

New manual published to support flexible apprenticeships

A new manual, co-authored by industry and government, has today been published to set out how flexibilities in apprenticeships can be used and delivered in construction – to meet the needs of employers and apprentices.

Apprenticeships have been on a transformational journey since 2012, with reforms such as the introduction of employer led standards leading the way in ensuring apprenticeships are relevant, high quality, and meet the skills needs of employers. In 2020, the Prime Minister committed to building on this success, and making apprenticeships more flexible, to better meet the needs of employers and apprentices.

The ‘Flexible Apprenticeships in Construction’ manual sets out:

  • how the delivery of apprenticeship training can be flexed to meet employer needs; and
  • how the length of an apprenticeship can be reduced where an individual has existing relevant knowledge or skills.

Some employers are already making use of apprenticeship flexibilities and are seeing the benefits of this, in workforce satisfaction, productivity, and improved value for money.

George Swann, FIS Skills and Training Lead said “This manual fully explains and gives examples of how off-the-job training can be flexed to meet individual employer needs. It includes information and case studies about: Flexible training models, options for delivering off-the-job training, including front-loading blocks of training at the beginning of an apprenticeship. Accelerated apprenticeships, approaches to adjusting the content and duration of apprenticeship training plans through recognition of prior learning.

Any delivery process will be restricted by what the Universities, Colleges or Independent Training Providers can or are willing to deliver.  Employers must contact and negotiate with the Training Providers to get the best deal in a format that suits the individual apprentices and your organisations needs.  Use this manual to bust the jargon and ensure you know what the training provider is offering and remember to confirm your employer responsibilities to the apprenticeship training programme and what you can expect from the training provider and don’t forget to fully brief your apprentice.”

Employers should think creatively about how they can tailor apprenticeship training to meet their needs. Be it through a flexible delivery model, such as front loading which can support apprentices new to the sector to hit the ground running, to delivering accelerated apprenticeships for more experienced individuals who are able to build on their existing skills and complete more quickly.

The manual can be downloaded here or you can visit www.gov.uk/employ-an-apprentice for more information.

Employer incentives payments, in place until September 2021, mean there is £3000 available for every apprentice hired.

Cartels in construction – firms fined £67 million

Cartels in construction – firms fined £67 million

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published an opinion piece detailing why construction companies must take cartel risk, where rivals get together and break competition rules, seriously. In recent years the CMA has fined construction firms £67 million across five competition law cases. As well as large fines for the companies, 11 directors in total were disqualified from acting as directors as a result of these cases. There have also been two criminal convictions.

The CMA is urging the wider industry to take note to avoid making similar mistakes, reminding company directors of their responsibility to lead by example and be aware of how their organisation is operating.

A campaign has been launched by the CMA, ‘Cheating or Competing’ which feaures a new collection of construction case studies alongside advice for the sector. The authority is also working with procurement officials across central and local government, to make it easier for them to spot and report suspected illegal activity.

To find out more, visit the CMA ‘Cheating or Competing’ campaign page

Actions for industry 

  • Be clear on competition rules set out by the CMA.
  • Check your business practices and come forward if you think you have been involved or have witnessed illegal behaviour.
  • Reporting a cartel you were involved in, and co-operating with a CMA investigation, is the best route to leniency that could mean immunity from fines, prosecutions and disqualifications.
  • Note that whistleblowers who report cartels can receive financial rewards.

 

125 free places on mental health awareness course

125 free places on mental health awareness course

Mental health is important all year round, but Mental Health Awareness Week is especially important because extra efforts are raised to reduce the negative stigma associated with mental health.

This year Mental Health Awareness Week will take place between 10-16 May and The Lighthouse Club is offering 125 free places on its MHFA Mental Health Awareness half day training. These courses pro-actively support the industry’s mental health by training people to look after their own wellbeing and have the confidence to give support to others who may need it.

For more information and to sign up visit https://www.lighthouseclub.org/mental-health-awareness/

Help Inside the Hard Hat

Help Inside the Hard Hat

To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, The Lighthouse Club is launching its ‘Help Inside the Hard Hat’ campaign to raise awareness of mental health within the construction industry.

To help support the charity’s biggest ever campaign, Help Inside the Hard Hat, they are offering a huge range of pro-active support and resources for our community, including their 24/7 Construction Industry Helpline, their free app and mental health training. Fore more information and to access the resources visit https://www.lighthouseclub.org/help-inside-the-hard-hat/