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Collaboration is the key to success

Six months on from the launch of the updated Construction Leadership Council (CLC) Industry Skills Plan, I’m delighted to share how we’ve worked together to support the industry.

As CITB’s Customer and Product Director and Co-Chair of the CLC’s People and Skills Network I’ve seen the extraordinary things we can achieve when we pull together and work collaboratively.

Developing skills is what motivates me and my colleagues. We all benefit from a highly skilled workforce. We need it to build our homes and infrastructure, modernise the world around us and prepare for the challenges of tomorrow.

It’s part of our job at CITB to ensure the right skills are in the right place. To achieve this, we need a strategy. One which is created by industry, for industry.

Working together

The latest CITB Business Plan lays the groundwork, investing the Levy to support industry to have a skilled, competent and inclusive workforce, now and in the future. But addressing the skills gap isn’t something we can do alone. That’s why our work with the CLC and our other partners through the People and Skills Network is so important.

As a collective of voices across construction, the CLC works to drive growth and investment, improve productivity, and build skills capacity. This is made possible through cross-industry collaboration. Industry representatives, including those from CITB, SMEs, representative bodies and trade federations, jointly agree a programme to best meet the needs of construction.

My role as Co-Chair of the People and Skills Network is to influence the wider skills agenda to deliver for our customers. We recognise one of the biggest challenges is recruiting and retaining skilled people, so we spearheaded four key priority areas in the Industry Skills Plan to improve how we attract and progress people through the industry.

They are:

  • Changing culture to improve access for all
  • Boosting routes into industry
  • Improving competence and creating frameworks to meet the needs of industry
  • Developing skills for a modernised industry.

This is no small task, but we’ve already enjoyed some fantastic achievements together.

Delivering together

To attract a broad and diverse range of talent, we’re making sure the construction industry is a great place to work. We’ve provided over 4,000 people with Fairness, Inclusion & Respect training, delivered over 1,000 work taster sessions and recruited 600 new STEM Ambassadors. We’re building on this by developing an Industry Diversity Plan to help employers place inclusivity at the heart of their business.

Apprenticeships have bounced back strongly, with 32,000 apprenticeship starts in England in 2021/22, as well as robust growth in Scotland and Wales. Funding is often the biggest barrier for SMEs to recruit apprentices, so we launched an Apprenticeship Levy pledge campaign to encourage larger firms to transfer unspent Levy funds – building on the £3m already pledged. This financial boost complements the £60m CITB will directly invest in grants this year.

Another key achievement has been the launch of Talentview, where candidates can find their first job, apprenticeship or work experience placement in construction. The free, central recruitment platform has proved beneficial for employers looking to fill skills gaps, with visits to the site increasing by 13% since April.

We’ve made good progress on the six competence frameworks set out in the Industry Skills Plan, including Dry Lining, Plumbing and Heating, and Roofing. This will mean there is one definition of competence that everyone can use when training workers in these areas. Ultimately, the goal is to have an overarching set of competence frameworks that all standards across the industry can align to.

Preparing for future skills needs is as important as addressing current challenges. The Net Zero Action Plan, launched in September, provides vital clarity on the skills required to prepare for Net Zero. We’re now working with the University of Cambridge to develop a full Net Zero skills route map and career pathway.

This aligns with our forward-looking approach to put the necessary training infrastructure in place to meet the changing skills needs of construction. Other initiatives, such as Construction Boot Camps, provide a more immediate skills boost to the industry, with 2,500 learners taking part so far.

The CLC is focused on England, but alongside our devolved partners, such as Skills Development Scotland and Careers Wales, we ensure the work is replicated across Scotland and Wales. Our programmes, including the Scottish Academy for Construction Opportunities and Welsh Onsite Experience Hubs, complement our work with CLC in England.

Looking ahead

The past six months demonstrated that we achieve a lot more by working together. None of this would happen without the tremendous effort of the members of the People and Skills Network.

It’s important we continue working together to deliver on our collective priorities. This can be employing an apprentice, becoming a STEM Ambassador or advertising your vacancies on Talentview. Or simply taking a look at the Industry Skills Plan and sharing it with your network.

The actions we have committed to are the right ones to meet the skills challenges that construction faces – but it’s vital we don’t stand still. With your support, we will build on the great work we’ve accomplished to date and help build a workforce that is equipped to deliver the industry we all want to be a part of.

Jackie Ducker