ConstructionSkills chief executive Mark Farrar has welcomed the Government’s decision to appoint a chief construction adviser (CCA), but has called on the successful candidate to show leadership in turning procurement guidelines on training requirements in public sector construction into clear action.
Commenting on the decision Mark Farrar said: “The appointment of a chief construction adviser should go some way in showing that the Government has been listening to what we desperately need in order to be in the strongest possible position for when the economic upturn kicks in.
“High on the priority list for the CCA should be ensuring that the existing commitments for public construction spend are delivered over the next few years, commitments which are going to be at risk due to the significant public sector debt. The public sector is the industry’s largest client and, for the industry to emerge from the recession with the best skillset, its imperative that planned work goes ahead.
“These contracts must also be used to drive positive change for the supply of skills to the sector. In April this year, the Office of Government Commerce produced procurement guidelines which give all public sector clients the power to require successful contractors to have apprentices and wider training embedded in their workforce; a key part of the CCA’s role must now be to turn this policy into action at every available opportunity.
“Further emphasis should also be placed on the public sector to implement best practice in areas such as low carbon and waste management. These areas of innovation are where the UK needs to be at the forefront in order to continue to compete on the international stage.
“In practice, the CAA needs to have a real influence on departments over their construction spending, procurement and project delivery. In particular there should be improved planning and long term stability regarding public sector investment in construction, as it is likely that that a fall off in public investment while the private sector has not yet recovered will deliver a deeper, more prolonged period of recession for the industry
“The construction industry has been through previous recessions, but this time around we have an opportunity to come out the other side stronger than we have done before. And, with the proper implementation, the chief construction adviser’s role can make all the difference to achieving this goal.”