Sector Deal for construction finalised
The Construction Sector Deal holds out promises of greater investment and more training for experienced operatives as well as new apprentices. But a lot is expected of the industry in terms of increased productivity and high quality outputs. Read for full details.
After a delay caused largely by the collapse of Carillion, government announced its finalised Construction Sector Deal on July 5th, after the initial announcement at the end of 2017 (see MBS, January 2018)
Heralded as a ‘bytes and mortar construction revolution’, the Deal focuses on use of innovative technologies to increase productivity. In particular, the document focuses on: use of digital design technologies; offsite manufacturing; and a new emphasis on whole-life asset performance to shift the industry away from a cost-first approach.
Speaking at the launch of the Deal, Greg Clark MP Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “This Sector Deal is supported by the biggest government investment in construction for at least a decade and will drive economic growth and create well-paid, highly skilled jobs in every part of the UK.”
Industry bodies have responded in a largely positive way to the Deal. However, the details in some areas are yet to be clarified.
Alexi Ozioro, public affairs and policy manager for BESA says: “I am fascinated to see what the new, ‘fairer approach to contracts’ and payment practice will be. Government know SMEs are unfairly disadvantaged, and with ready-made solutions like the Aldous Bill and other options like abolition on the table, I hope government will act sooner rather than later.”
Rob Driscoll, ECA deputy director of business policy and practice reflected these concerns: “We need to see government ensure that new, fairer approaches to contract and payment practices will ensure the 99% of industry that are SMEs are not unfairly disadvantaged, carry reduced risk and experience collaborative supply chains. We are here to help the Construction Leadership Council and Government make that happen.”
The Construction Sector Deal has four clear and ambitious objectives that are to be achieved by UK construction by a deadline of 2025, representing transformative change for the sector:
• 33% reduction in the cost of construction and the whole-life cost of assets
• 50% reduction in the time taken from beginning to end of new build projects.
• 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment
• 50% reduction in the trade gap between total exports and total imports of construction products and materials.
The Specialist Engineering Contractors Group (SEC) also welcomed the Deal as an opportunity to drive change in the industry.
SEC Group CEO Rudi Klein said that he was particularly pleased to see some focus on promoting a more sustainable business model for the industry and on developing an industry-wide definition of value.
He commented: “The Grenfell tragedy and the Carillion debacle have highlighted the dysfunctionalities in procurement and delivery, especially abusive business practices and the lowest-price culture which have had a detrimental impact on quality.”
One of the key elements of the Deal is training. Government will work with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) to focus on future skills needs and increase the number of approved apprenticeship standards. There is a commitment to increase the number of apprenticeship starts to 25,000 by 2020.
Government will also help industry prepare for implementation of new construction ‘T levels’, including support for industry placements.
A third of the construction industry’s workforce is over 50 years old, and the deal aims to tackle this issue with £34 million allocated for ‘up-skilling’ the existing workforce with training programmes across the country.