FIS guidance gains RIBA CPD Accreditation

FIS guidance gains RIBA CPD Accreditation

FIS has a suite of Specifiers Guide, and earlier this month we published the fourth in our series focussing on Partitioning. You can access this guide, along with others covering Ceilings and Absorbers, Drylining and SFS here. Two of these guides have now gained RIBA CPD accreditation, and we will be putting the others forward for accreditation in the coming months.

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 in competition with a non-member, and are an excellent introduction to new members of the team and any trainees and apprentices.

But our offering doesn’t stop there. We also have a dedicated Knowledge Hub packed full of resources for our sector. Our easy-to-use online library contains a wide variety of material, covering contractual and legal, technical guidance and quality standards, drawn from a broad range of sources. The Knowledge Hub is constantly expanding, with up-to-date and topical material added on a regular basis.

In addition a member of our in-house technical team is only a phone call away to offer support to help you navigate the complexity of contracting and supplying products to the sector.

Government issues guidance to support fire reform agenda

Government issues guidance to support fire reform agenda

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry in the Phase 1 report noted that “Fire doors play an essential role in preventing or inhibiting the spread of smoke and toxic gases and in preserving the effective compartmentation of buildings.” The Inquiry noted that the fire doors in Grenfell Tower did not, through damage and/or disrepair, act in the way that they should so that they prevent smoke and gases from spreading. The Inquiry recommended (Recommendations 33.29 (a) and (b)) that the owner and manager of every residential building containing separate dwellings carry out an urgent inspection of all fire doors to ensure compliance with current legislative standards and that regular (no less than every three months) checks be carried out to ensure all fire doors are fitted with an effective self-closing device which is in working order. In addition, the Inquiry recommended (Recommendation 33.30) that all those who have responsibility for the condition of the entrance doors to individual flats in high-rise residential buildings (with unsafe cladding) be required by law to ensure these doors comply with current standards.

Prior to the Fire Safety Act 2021, flat entrance doors in multi-occupied residential buildings may not have been routinely considered as part of the fire risk assessment process. The Fire Safety Act 2021 has removed the legal ambiguity and confirms that flat entrance doors are in scope of the Fire Safety Order.

The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 will make it a legal requirement from 23 January 2023 for responsible persons for all multi-occupied residential buildings in England with storeys over 11 metres in height to:

  • Undertake quarterly checks of all fire doors (including self-closing devices) in the common parts; and,
  • Undertake – on a best endeavour basis – annual checks of all flat entrance doors (including self-closing devices) that lead onto a building’s common parts.

The regulations will also require responsible persons to provide to residents of all multi-occupied residential buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises (that have common parts) information on the importance of fire doors to a building’s fire safety.

 

 

 

Managing and mentoring young people in your business

Managing and mentoring young people in your business

The recent FIS regional events identified the challenge of retaining people in apprenticeships and training to the point of successful completion, it is estimated approximately 30% of those who start construction apprenticeships do not complete.  There are a number of reasons for this, but key is ensuring that we have the management processes and support mechanisms in place to support young people in our businesses.  It is widely acknowledged that organisations that have dedicated coaches and mentors experience higher retention rates across all levels of the workforce, but this isn’t easy to implement and there hasn’t been enough support and training to help.

The Strategic Development Network (SDN), a team of leading specialists in apprenticeships, technical education and workforce development has been working with Government and Industry Bodies to address this concern.  SDN are hosting a one hour webinar on the role of the line manager and mentor on the 31 May.  The focus will be on hosting young people in the workplace who are engaged on government backed schemes that prepare them for work, T-Levels and Traineeships, potentially the finishes and interiors sectors future workforce.

Here are the details:

The role of the line manager and mentor – hosting young people in the workplace – 31 May 2022, 2-3pm

In this 1-hour webinar, SDN will cover:

  • The role of line managers throughout the placement
  • Creating a mentoring culture and identifying suitable mentors
  • Setting up an effective mentoring scheme – supporting young people to succeed in the workplace
  • Staff development – mentoring, coaching and interpersonal skills
  • Case study insights from those already offering industry placements
  • The government support available to help you

There is no charge for this session. You can register your place here

FIS look forward to seeing you online.

Competence Framework – installer pilot report published

Competence Framework – installer pilot report published

Building Safety – First stage complete in journey towards fully competent installer workforce

The construction and built environment sector must maintain momentum to ensure the competence of installation organisations and employees as a key report highlights ‘red flags’ amid wider progress on Building Safety.

A report has been published setting out the current state of competence arrangements for those installing products and systems in buildings. Prepared by members of Working Group 2, which was set up as part of the post-Grenfell Competence Steering Group, volunteers from Working Group 2 have worked with six pilot installer sectors – Dry Lining, Domestic Plumbing and Heating, Fire Detection and Alarms, Fire Stopping Specialist, Rainscreen Cladding, and Roofing – to benchmark existing competence arrangements.

This Pilot – Phase One stage sets a baseline to identify shortfalls and considers the changes needed to create competence frameworks that comply with the recommendations of Setting the Bar. In 2020, Setting the Bar outlined how industry must improve the competence of those procuring, designing, constructing, inspecting, assessing, managing, installing and maintaining higher risk residential buildings.

The report recognises that good practice exists in each of the six sectors that allows them to demonstrate elements of competence. Yet there are elements of each sectors’ arrangements that the working group has red rated, showing that significant work is required to meet the requirements of Setting the Bar.

Each sector will now move to develop sector-specific competence frameworks that play to existing strengths and close off any red flag issues raised in the report. This process – which will also develop a timeline and implementation plan for each sector – is expected to take six to nine months.

The report also calls on other installer sectors to begin their own competence journey now, offering guidance to help them do so which Working Group 2 has developed during the pilots.

Iain McIlwee, FIS Chief Executive who was a participant in the Dry Lining pilot, said:

“FIS has taken an active role in this work and will continue to work with our members and the wider sector to ensure that competency is understood, the support mechanisms needed to deliver a competent workforce are in place and that we are able to track, manage and reward competence effectively.  We have championed and led the Dry Lining work because it is an important part of most building operations, it is a labour intensive process and frankly has been hugely undervalued in the construction process.  This work is the building block, a  fresh start not only to delivering a better competency framework, but helping to raise the profile and change expectations about the vital work that dry liners do.  We do not underestimate the enormity of this task given the current socioeconomic backdrop, but do recognise that it is essential work that we must take on together.”

Mark Reynolds, Sponsor for the CLC’s People and Skills Network, said:

“Publication of Working Group 2’s latest report marks an important milestone in progress towards improved standards of installer competence in the built environment. The CLC will continue to do all we can to assist with the pilots and I would urge other installer sectors now to embark on their own competence journeys, drawing on the resources which Working Group 2 has provided.”

Nick Jarman, Chair of Working Group 2, said:

“There has been much collaboration since the formation of Working Group 2, focussed on how we can learn from the lessons of the past and forge a new pathway of improvement for the future with the objective of providing a safer built environment overall. I would like to thank sector representatives and my Working Group 2 colleagues for getting the pilot process to the point this report can be published. Working Group 2 looks forward to further engagement and collaboration with the wider installer sector to continue progress on this crucial workstream.”

Building Safety Act published

Building Safety Act published

After receiving Royal Assent on 28 April 2022 the Building Safety Bill is now available for scrutiny.

FIS will continue to look at how the Bill will impact our community and will keep members up-to-date with developments. We have prepared an initial summary of the key implications that you can access here.

 FIS is committed to supporting our members with compliance and ensuring the Bill supports a better safety and a more collaborative approach to procurement.

Read the Building Safety Act 2022 in full here

CPA releases UK Economic and Construction Update

CPA releases UK Economic and Construction Update

The latest weekly update from CPA is available to members here. The updated issues are in Pages 1-5 of the weekly update whilst subsequent pages have existing data and information that remain relevant. This update includes:

  1. ONS Construction Output (March 2022)
  2. ONS Construction New Orders (2022 Q1)
  3. RICS UK Residential Market Survey (April 2022)

The Spring CPA forecasts were published on Tuesday 3 May and FIS members can access these here.

 

    Market Data

    FIS has access to a wide range of market data from sources including the CPA, Barbour ABI and Builders’ Conference. In addition, FIS produces a state of trade survey specifically for the finishes and interiors sector.

    Helping members understand the net zero agenda and its relevance to the sector

    Helping members understand the net zero agenda and its relevance to the sector

    Net Zero is rapidly becoming a high priority and therefore the FIS Sustainability Group has put together a series of papers to help FIS members understand more about the net zero agenda and its relevance to the finishes and interior sector. These papers provide members with an overview of:

    • How to measure the whole life carbon impacts of products and projects using a life cycle assessment (LCA) approach
    • What net zero means at project and organisational levels and approaches to measuring the carbon footprint of an organisation
    • An action plan for the sector to start getting a better understanding of the performances of FIS members

    These papers provide an overview of the most commonly used jargon in relation to the topic, how to measure, what the drivers are and references to other relevant information.

    They are freely available to FIS members at https://www.thefis.org/knowledge-hub/sustainablility/sustainability-related-to-your-activities/net-zero/

    24 June - Net Zero - measuring your carbon footprint

    The UK Government has committed the UK to be net zero by 2050. In this session, we will discuss what this means for the finishes and interior sector, both at organisation and activity level (product and project).

    An FIS member will share their experience of measuring their organisational carbon footprint. Following the short presentation, this session will provide an opportunity to understand more about the papers that have been published by FIS and ask questions/share any concerns or issues.

    FIS reveals Contractors Awards shortlist

    FIS reveals Contractors Awards shortlist

    The FIS Contractors Awards showcase the very best of our industry and after months of project visits, we are excited to announce that our judges have determined their shortlist.

    To see who made the shortlist click here

    The FIS Contractors Awards aim to promote and encourage high levels of craftsmanship in the finishes and interiors sector. The standard of entries into this year’s Contractors Awards was extremely high, so congratulations to all companies that entered.

    The winners in each category, along with the the architect or interior designer of the winning project, will be announced in front of a packed audience at the FIS Awards Lunch on 9 June at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London. The event is now sold-out, so if you would like to attend but haven’t yet booked, get in touch with clairmooney@thefis.org and we will add you to the waiting list.

    Changing legislation in Scotland

    Changing legislation in Scotland

    Developers in Scotland will be banned from using combustible cladding on high‐rise buildings from 1 June, following the introduction of new building standards legislation. Since 2005, new cladding systems on high‐rise blocks of flats have either had to use non‐combustible materials or pass a large‐scale fire test. However, the new legislation removes the option of the fire test, prohibiting such materials from being used on domestic and other high‐risk buildings above 11 metres. The highest risk metal composite cladding material will be banned from all new buildings whatever their height, with replacement cladding also required to meet the new standards.

    FIS has reviewed the proposals and note that Cavity Trays that caused some disruption in England and Wales are in the list of exemptions and consistent with the work we did with Scottish Government on buildings greater than 18 m.

    Scottish Procurement Policy Note (SPPN) 02/2022 will also be introduced from 1 June, which sets out how public sector bodies are to embed prompt payment performance in the supply chain through procurement processes. Suppliers will have to pay 95% of valid invoices on time, or provide an improvement plan, otherwise they will not be selected to bid.

    Common Assessment Standard updated to reflect UK sanctions list

    Common Assessment Standard updated to reflect UK sanctions list

    Due to the unprecedented situation in Ukraine, which has led to a growing list of sanctions against Russia and Belarus, Build UK will be adding a new question to the Common Assessment Standard to enable the construction supply chain to demonstrate that it is not dealing with any companies or individuals subject to the UK Sanctions List. Version 3.1 will be published on 1 July and suppliers will be required to answer the new question when they next go through the certification process for the Common Assessment Standard.

    We are continuing to roll out the Common Assessment Standard across the industry and our new infographic shows how it is improving efficiency and reducing cost in the pre‐qualification (PQ) process.

    Construction Product Availability Statement May 2022

    Construction Product Availability Statement May 2022

    Statement from John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation and Peter Caplehorn, CEO of the Construction Products Association, co-chairs of the Construction Leadership Council’s Product Availability working group

    With the Product Availability Group having met only three weeks ago, there has been little change in respect of overall product supply since our last report, although the conflict in Ukraine is likely to affect some timber supplies later in the year. There is a good supply of most products and materials but, as previously reported, ongoing challenges continue to affect bricks, aircrete blocks, concrete products, PIR insulation products and gas boilers all of which are on long lead times.

    Most wood products, including structural timber, are fully stocked. While structural softwood will remain fully available, the availability of some other product groups, whose use is concentrated in the joinery, shopfitting and finishing sectors rather than housing, is less certain given their greater reliance on raw material supplies from Russia and Belarus. The most critical is Birch plywood, which will become increasing scarce as summer progresses as outside of Russia there is only limited production from Europe, principally Finland. If the UK market is offered Birch Plywood for later in the year from the Far East, it will be based on Russian Birch logs and will be illegal to import.

    Although Siberian Larch cladding will disappear from the market eventually, there are plenty of alternative cladding sources. Similarly, there are alternatives to Russian redwood and whitewood used principally in joinery and shopfitting, although these are generally more expensive.

    Some PAG members reported initial signs of a slowing market. These reports are corroborated by recent published data from Glenigan, pointing to a slowdown in starts on site during the three months to April 2022. These data points suggest that inflationary pressures are starting to influence client decisions in some sectors, continuing the trend seen with softening retail sales over the last few months.

    Most regions are still reporting strong demand on the trade side, particularly from larger housebuilders and for infrastructure projects including road building. SME contractors, however, are concerned that local authorities may delay regeneration projects until they can achieve more price certainty through the procurement process. We have also heard of delayed start dates for specialist trades at the end of the product building cycle, that may indicate projects continuing at a slower pace, which may impact both productivity and cash flow.

    Price inflation remains a critical issue. We have previously reported the impact of rising energy, fuel and raw material costs on product price, and the latest data published by BEIS shows that annual material price inflation increased to over 24% in March for a basket of materials. With further restrictions on Russian gas and oil imports across Europe we expect that energy price movements will continue to be unpredictable. Some merchants and producers have also reported impacts on the availability of products caused by the outbreak of Covid in China and the restrictions imposed in response to this, which is affecting manufacturing and shipping from Shanghai. Wage inflation is a further concern within the supply chain, with pay rises necessary to secure labour.

    Those pay raises have helped to somewhat ameliorate the shortage of HGV drivers, with reports of a record number of HGV drivers taking their tests and estimates that the driver shortfall has reduced from 100,000 at its peak to 65,000.

    Despite this, the high costs and risks around haulage and shipping persist; we note reports that some European lorry manufacturers are not taking orders either because backlogs were problematic or pricing of input materials for new vehicles was proving too uncertain. This may put greater pressure on companies to maximise the efficiency of their fleet and keep vehicles for longer than anticipated. Construction product manufacturers and distributors are amongst the largest users of the UK’s road network.

    In regards to global shipping, the price of moving a container from the Far East to Europe has dropped as much as 25% from its high at the start of the year, but many forecasters believe that the elevated costs and volatile delivery schedules caused by the container crisis will nonetheless carry on to mid-2023.

    The conflict in Ukraine continues to affect certain product areas, as detailed in our last two reports (21 April and 28 March). We are undertaking a horizon scanning exercise to determine the likely extent of disruption particularly in relation to clay, ceramics, electrical products, and raw materials for steel and other production, as well as impact on energy costs.

    Working from home relief

    Working from home relief

    The Covid-related relaxation to the rules on claiming expenses for working from home has now been abolished. What this means is that if your employees *can* work from home if they choose but you have not *required* them to work from home, they can no longer claim home office expenses (they should check their 2022-23 notice of coding).

    There is a clear statement from HMRC that “You cannot claim tax relief if you choose to work from home” which you can find here and there is a “check your status” tool employees can complete for themselves here.

    May is a busy month of deadlines which members are encouraged to factor into their planning.

    • 19 May If you are not paying electronically, this is the deadline for PAYE/NICs/CIS/Student Loan for the month ended 5/5 and for CIS returns. These payments need to clear HMRC’s bank account by 22 May.
    • 31 May deadline for employees to have received P60s from their employers.
    • 31 May Companies House should have received 31/8/2021 private company accounts and 31/11/2021 accounts for plcs.
    • 31 May CT self-assessment returns for companies with accounting periods to 31 May 2021.

    This issue of Newsline, exclusively available to FIS members, also includes as update on when a non-construction business can be “deemed” to be within CIS, avoidance schemes and National Insurance Contributions. Read the latest issue here.

    FIS publish technical guidance on the use of frameless glazing when used as guarding

    FIS publish technical guidance on the use of frameless glazing when used as guarding

    FIS has launched a technical guidance note, Guarding with frameless glass partitioning to help specifiers, designers, manufacturers and specialist contractors fully understand the unique challenges of utilising full height frameless glazed partitions as a barrier.

    The new FIS technical note was produced by the FIS on behalf of its members and peer reviewed by the wider community in response to ongoing feedback on the specific overlap between this product category and it’s intended use which is not well described or prescribed by standards or regulations. The document also gives examples of how to harmonise the approach to performance across devolved nations where the guidance that exists can vary. 

    Commenting on the need for guidance Peter Long of Optima Systems said:

    “We need to be advocating the same degree of risk management in guarding as we do with fire. Both areas of construction are protecting risks to life, so both should have the same levels of attention to safe design.”

    This supports the need to consider this product to be a clear example of a safety critical product.

    Referenced and associated FIS publications:

    The unintentional designer

    Spontaneous breakages of toughened glass

    FIS acoustic verification scheme

    Best practice guide for installing partitions

    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.

    The guidance note is freely accessible to FIS members and to specifiers on request. Visit the Technical Guidance section on the webiste at https://www.thefis.org/knowledge-hub/technical/fis-technical-notes-industry-alerts/

    Construction activity buoyant, but strong headwinds coming, warns Construction Products Association

    Construction activity buoyant, but strong headwinds coming, warns Construction Products Association

    In its latest quarterly forecast, the Construction Products Association (CPA) sees a dramatic slowing in growth, with uncertainty ahead as global issues start to affect the UK market.

    In previous years, the predicted 2.8% growth in construction output anticipated by the CPA team would be cause for celebration. However, while a robust figure, this is a sharp revision down from the 4.3% growth forecast just three months ago.

    Demand remains strong across the industry in Q2, and the current project pipeline suggests that this will support activity levels until at least 2022 Q3. The downward revision to the growth forecast stems from concern around a host of price pressures arising from both local and global issues.

    Prior to the conflict in Ukraine, UK construction was already facing labour and product availability issues and the impact of reverse charge VAT and IR35. Rising energy costs were driving near-record price increases in construction products and the continued conflict is exacerbating this issue.

    The impact of these pressures, and of more general rising costs, on demand will vary considerably by sector. Across the board the picture is one of positive market conditions in the short term with anticipation of tougher times ahead.

    In private housing repair, maintenance and improvement, the stellar performer post the initial Covid-19 lockdowns, SMEs report that demand remains high, but this is the sector arguably most exposed to current price inflation, falls in consumer confidence and pressures on household incomes. Overall, output is expected to fall by 3% in 2022 and 4% next year from current all-time highs.

    Private housing, the largest construction sector, remains strong, with housebuilders reporting resilient demand. Longer term, there must be questions over consumer confidence but output in this sector is forecast to rise by 1% in both 2022 and 2023. This contrasts with the 3% per year growth forecast three months ago.

    The fastest growth is expected in the industrial sector, in which output is forecast to rise by 9.8% in 2022 and 9.3% in 2023, due to a strong pipeline of warehouse projects, resulting from a long-term shift towards online shopping.

    Infrastructure, traditionally less affected by immediate economic conditions, remains positive. Large projects such as HS2, Thames Tideway and Hinkley Point C combined with the five-year spending plans in Page 2 of 3 regulated sectors such as rail, road and power generation point to a forecasted growth of 8.8% in 2022 and 4.6% in 2023.

    On the supply side, the main immediate impact of the war in Ukraine for construction products will be the knock-on from rising energy prices and commodity shortages. Soaring energy costs will have to be passed on and lead to sharp rises in the cost of energy-intensive products. This will affect both imported products such as aluminium and steel and locally sourced products such as bricks and cement.

    Contractors are likely to feel the pressure first, particularly those working to fixed-price contracts. For future projects, contractors will be forced to re-price, add fluctuation costs and introduce risk-sharing arrangements to deal with the uncertainty over potential cost inflation.

    Noble Francis, CPA Economics Director, offered this summary of the latest figures:

    “The major challenge is creeping uncertainty. The immediate picture is one of resilient demand and healthy pipelines. Longer term, the current inflationary pressures, if sustained, will have an increasingly depressing impact, while the continuation, or potential escalation, of conflict in Europe presents an existential risk.

    “Specialist sub-contractors are feeling the effects first, particularly those working to fixed-price contracts. For future projects, contractors will be forced to re-price, add fluctuation clauses and introduce risk[1]sharing arrangement to deal with the uncertainty over potential cost inflation.”

    Access the full report

    FIS members have free access to the CPA Forecast and can download their copy via the button below.

    Not a member? Contact FIS on 0121 707 0077 for details on joining.

    See more news likes this

    FIS guidance gains RIBA CPD Accreditation

    FIS guidance gains RIBA CPD Accreditation

    FIS has a suite of Specifiers Guide, and earlier this month we published the fourth in our series focussing on Partitioning. You can access this guide, along with others covering Ceilings and Absorbers, Drylining and SFS here. Two of these guides have now gained RIBA...

    Government issues guidance to support fire reform agenda

    Government issues guidance to support fire reform agenda

    The Grenfell Tower Inquiry in the Phase 1 report noted that “Fire doors play an essential role in preventing or inhibiting the spread of smoke and toxic gases and in preserving the effective compartmentation of buildings.” The Inquiry noted that the fire doors in...

    Brexit: Office of Product Safety on Northern Ireland

    Brexit: Office of Product Safety on Northern Ireland

    As you will have no doubt seen in recent news, the Government has announced it will introduce legislation to fix the Northern Ireland Protocol, which will act as a safeguard should the UK be unable to agree proposals with the EU through negotiations. The legislation...

    CICV tells construction clients that rise in project costs reflects ongoing global turmoil

    CICV tells construction clients that rise in project costs reflects ongoing global turmoil

    The Construction Industry Collective Voice (CICV) has reassured clients that ongoing price rises for projects are caused by global events not “profiteering” – and says any increases only reflect the spiralling costs that are affecting the whole construction industry.

    Clients have voiced concerns at the increasing costs of construction work, but the body insists this is due only to ongoing global events sparking a rise in fuel costs and shortages of raw materials and labour.

    Iain McIlwee, FIS Chief Executive said:

    “The war in Ukraine, energy price hikes, impact of Brexit and fallout from COVID-19 have all created a ‘perfect storm’ just as there is a surge in demand, with price increases being imposed on the industry as a result.

    Construction professionals are increasingly being forced to shoulder these ongoing rises, particularly when it comes materials, and are having no option but to pass these increases on to clients. But it is not profiteering – it is a necessity for these businesses to survive.”

    The CICV’s Post-Brexit & Trade sub-group this week discussed the higher costs for raw materials, energy, labour and transport being faced by construction businesses of all sizes in Scotland, with particular focus on inflationary pressures for SMEs caused by external factors.

    Iain added:

    “This is a really challenging time for all in the construction supply chain with costs rising, often at short notice.  The critical thing now is that we work together as a supply chain.

    Too often in construction we have contracted down all risks, but we are now in a position where fixed prices could undermine the resilience of contractors or suppliers and we need to adopt a more collaborative approach and consider how fluctuations clauses can be deployed and any risks fairly shared so as not to undermine the quality or viability of a project or businesses.”

    The CICV says as well as the negative impact of political, military and health issues, the withdrawal of red diesel in April has also led to higher costs for construction firms.

    Chris Cassley, Policy Manager at CICV member the Construction Plant-hire Association (CPA), said:

    “The UK Government’s environmental strategy with the removal of red diesel for construction plant has undoubtedly contributed to the current financial impact on industry, and despite representations to government departments, has proceeded regardless.

    “The rise in energy and material prices, together with supply chain pressures and higher inflationary figures, has led to a tipping-balance for suppliers and customers alike, and in many instances resulted in necessary price increases. These increases are very likely to be passed back up to the client and for government projects, it will be the taxpayer who will ultimately have to pay.”

    Another warning came from Andrew Richards, Strategic Director of Safedem and a member of the Construction Scotland Industry Leadership Group, (representing SMEs and the supply chain) which is working in tandem with CICV to support the industry. Mr Richards said:

    “The knock-on effects caused by the global events of the past two years looks like they will continue for the immediate future, so clients should consider fluctuations and rises in construction costs as part of ‘the new normal’ and shouldn’t expect prices to fall any time soon.

    “Construction professionals are equally concerned about the uncertainty that surrounds the marketplace and are only passing on cost increases through necessity, not greed.”

    The Post-Brexit & Trade panel is one of 12 sub-groups run by the CICV, covering a range of issues ranging from health and safety and skills to the supply chain and project bank accounts.

    The collective was rebranded from the Construction Industry Coronavirus (CICV) Forum at the start of 2022 to reflect its widened remit, which now covers all areas of construction.

    Since its creation in March 2020, the CICV has drawn on the collective expertise of its members to maintain a steady supply of information and practical advice to the sector as well as carrying out surveys, hosting webinars and making appeals to government ministers.

    Skills Bill clears way for the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education to unify system

    Skills Bill clears way for the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education to unify system

    Somewhat in the shadow of the Building Safety Bill, new laws were also passed on Thursday through the Skills and Post-16 Education Act that will help transform the skills and training landscape and level up opportunities across the country.

    The Skills and Post-16 Education Act is to level up and drive economic growth across England, making Green skills and careers advice in schools a priority.  The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) have been tasked to create a unified skills system which is simpler to understand and employers and learners can really trust.

    While much attention has been paid to level 3 qualifications and careers advice, the act gives the secretary of state a host of new powers over the FE and skills sector.  For example, the secretary of state now has legal powers to designate and remove designation of employer representative bodies (ERBs) responsible for developing local skills improvement plans (LSIPs).  They also have powers to introduce “statutory guidance” to tell ERBs who they should consult with and what should go in to their LSIPs.

    The lifelong loan entitlement now also has some statutory underpinning.  The flagship policy to provide loans with four years of post-18 education for modular and full qualifications at levels 4 to 6 is set to come on stream in 2025 and is currently out for public consultation.

    Another of the secretary of state’s new powers is to introduce an official list of approved post-16 training providers along with new conditions for registration and restricting access to funding to providers on that list.

    The act introduces new duties on college governing bodies to review and publish how their education and training offer is meeting local skills needs.  The secretary of state gains new powers to use the intervention system where providers are failing in this duty.

    The Institute for IfATE gets powers to approve and withdraw approval for technical qualifications under the act.

    Skills to support the growing green economy will be prioritised to create a workforce for jobs now and in the future, and schools will be required to make sure all children get to meet people that provide technical education routes such as apprenticeships, T Levels or Traineeships, opening their eyes to a wide range of careers.

    The legislation will help economic recovery and growth by making it easier for people to train to get the skills they need to secure well-paid jobs in industries with skills gaps, such as construction, health and social care, engineering, digital, clean energy and manufacturing.  It will also give more people the opportunity to get jobs in their local areas, by requiring employers and colleges to work together to identify the skills needed within communities.

    The Act underpins the government’s transformation of post-16 education and skills as set out in the Skills for Jobs White Paper and will help level up and drive growth across the whole country.  Minister for Skills Alex Burghart said, “The Skills and Post-16 Education Act will transform the skills, training and post-16 education landscape and level up opportunities across the country.  This legislation will make sure everyone can gain the skills they need to progress into a rewarding job, and businesses have access to a pipeline of talented, qualified employees for their workforces, boosting productivity.”

    Jennifer Coupland, chief executive of IfATE, which leads with implementing the government’s employer-led technical education reforms, said,

    “Following passage of this landmark legislation, we can look forward to creating a unified skills system which is simpler to understand and employers and learners can really trust. IfATE has empowered employers to drive up the quality of apprenticeships and roll out exciting new T Levels. The time is now right to extend the employer-led reforms across technical education.”

    Key measures introduced by the Act include:

    • supporting the creation of a unified skills system that builds from quality gains achieved with Apprenticeships and T Levels by ensuring all technical qualifications match up to employers’ high standards;
    • embedding employers in the heart of the skills system by placing a legal requirement on colleges and other providers to work with employers to develop skills plans, so that the training on offer meets the needs of local areas, and people no longer have to leave their hometowns to find great jobs;
    • making sure all pupils meet providers of technical education so that they understand the wide range of career routes and training available to them, such as Apprenticeships, T Levels or Traineeships, not just the traditional academic options;
    • prioritising green skills so the training on offer across the country meets the needs of the growing green economy and helps gets more people into jobs;
    • supporting the transformation of the current student loans system so from 2025 learners an access a flexible loan for higher-level education and training at university or college, useable at any point in their lives;
    • introducing new powers to intervene when colleges are failing to deliver good outcomes for the communities they serve; and
    • making it a criminal offence to provide, arrange or advertise essay mill services for financial gain to students taking a post-16 qualification at institutions in England including colleges, universities and sixth forms.

    Employers in eight trailblazer areas across the country have already been working with local training providers to create skills plans that align to what local communities need.  These plans are now being rolled out across the country, opening up more opportunities for people to gain the skills they and businesses need to succeed.  The new measures build on the work already under way to boost skills and get more people into better jobs, including working with employers to create more Apprenticeship opportunities, establishing a network of Institutes of Technology and rolling out new T Levels.

    George Swann FIS Skills and Training Lead said,

    “FIS is listed on the directory od professional and employer lead bodies with IfATE to monitor the quality of apprenticeship End Point Assessment for the sector.  This puts FIS employers front of house for the initiatives published through the Royal Assent of the Skills and Post-16 Education Act.  We will continue to work with IfATE and provide information advice and guidance to FIS members on all things skills”

    FIS launch Specifiers Guide to Partitioning

    FIS launch Specifiers Guide to Partitioning

    FIS has launched a Specifiers’ Guide to Partitioning to help specification writers fully understand the criteria when writing a specification for partitioning, including moveable walls and pods.

    The Specifiers’ Guide to Partitioning was produced by the FIS Partitioning and Pods Working Group which comprises representation from manufacturers, designers and contractors working in the sector. Pulling together decades of experience, this guide is the fourth in the series of guides and is designed to help specifiers and designers understand the questions that should be addressed before the specification can be produced and then how the specification should be structured, and which standards referenced.

    Commenting on the guide, Iain McIlwee, Chief Executive of FIS said:

    “Specifying partitioning seems, on the face of it, simple enough: consider the look, performance and cost, and there it is. If only it were that simple there would not be cases where inappropriate glass was used in guarding or the partition wasn’t performing acoustically because the flanking paths hadn’t been addressed”.

    The guide explains the vast range of product options and how careful specification can help with relocatability in the building as well as enjoying enhanced tax benefits as well as reference material to regulations for safety, fire performance and standards.

    “A well written specification not only ensures the installation meets the client’s requirements, but it also means the specifier’s requirements are less open to interpretation, which is key for the whole supply chain if they are going to deliver the quality and detail first time, on time,” added Iain McIlwee.

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

    FIS Acoustic Verification Scheme – FIS (thefis.org)

    Best practice guide for installing Partitioning

    Servicing operable walls

    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.

    FIS plans to have CPD material to accompany the guide later in the year.

    You can download the Specifiers’ Guide to Partitioning at www.thefis.org/membership-hub/publications/specifiers-guides/partitioning/

    For further information or for any questions please contact the FIS at info@thefis.org or call 0121 707 0077.

    Building Safety Bill has now become law

    Building Safety Bill has now become law

    The Bill received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022. FIS will continue looking at how the Bill will impact our community and will keep members up-to-date with developments.

    This is without doubt the biggest shake-up of Building Regulations since they were introduced in 1666, placing new demands on competence in the workforce, product selection and documenting process (e.g. digital record keeping) on all in the supply chain.

    FIS is committed to supporting our members with compliance and ensuring the Bill supports a better safety and a more collaborative approach to procurement.

    This is a landmark day for construction and we have prepared an initial summary of the key implications that you can access below

    Outlook remains positive despite inflationary headwinds

    Outlook remains positive despite inflationary headwinds

    Construction product manufacturers reported a positive start to 2022, recording a seventh straight quarter of growth in sales in Q1, according to the Construction Products Association’s State of Trade Survey. Broad cost pressures remained across the sector but are yet to dent manufacturers’ expectations for growth in the year ahead.

    Cost inflation persisted across the supply chain and three storms that brought heavy rainfall across the country between 16 to 21 February affected construction projects on site. 43% of heavy side firms and half of light side firms reported a quarterly rise in sales in Q1, up from balances of 31% and 22% respectively, in Q4. While demand levels in private housing and private housing RM&I have been sustained by the ‘race for space’ and major infrastructure projects continue to make progress, commercial has also gained from fit-out, refurbishments and changes in use activity. Despite economic headwinds, 80% of heavy side and 77% of light side firms anticipated a rise in sales over the next 12 months, the joint-highest balances in nearly eight and seven years respectively.

    As global supply chain issues and inflationary pressures were further exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, all firms cited annual rises in costs. Upward pressure came from a range of inputs, notably energy and raw materials with all firms reporting increases in the cost of both. With cost pressures set to continue in the next 12 months, investment intentions balances across most categories on the heavy side came in lower than Q4.

    Download the full report

    FIS members have access to content direct from the CPA through their FIS membership.

    Application deadline for £3,000 apprentice incentive payment extended

    Application deadline for £3,000 apprentice incentive payment extended

    The deadline for applying for the incentive payment has been extended until 20 May 2022.

    Employers who hired a new apprentice between 01 October 2021 and 31 January 2022  who had an apprenticeship start date between 01 October 2021 and 31 March 2022, could be eligible for the £3,000 incentive payment for hiring a new apprentice. To receive the payment, employers must submit an application for each eligible apprentice using their apprenticeship service account.

    For more support with employer applications please see:

    • how to apply guide including when to apply, steps to take before applying, how to apply and what happens after applying.
    • guidance page including eligibility, how the payment can be used and when payments are made.
    • how to apply video including a walkthrough of the steps to take within the Apprenticeship service: https://youtu.be/HQJjjAzXO7k

    When applying for the incentive payment for hiring a new apprentice, employers must make sure they have:

    • added the correct PAYE schemes, that they use to pay their apprentices, to their apprenticeship service account, in line with the service terms and conditions
    • only applied for eligible apprentices and they have documentation which can validate their claim, as listed in the apprenticeship funding rules
    • checked their training provider has the correct National Insurance Number for each of their apprentices, and that they have included this in their funding submissions

    If the information is incorrect, this will delay incentive payments.

    If you need any further information please call FIS on 0121 707 0077 or email info@thefis.org