A call to embrace innovation to tackle the growing construction skills shortage, standardise quality and ensure the UK reaches its new build housing targets has been applauded by Actis insulation.
The government-commissioned Farmer Review of the Construction Labour Model, which calls on the sector to ‘modernise or die’, presents a 10-point plan to address what will otherwise see the industry’s ‘inexorable decline’.
Author Mark Farmer’s findings come as no surprise to Actis UK and Ireland director Matthew King (pictured), who says increasing the number of timber-framed houses is a no-brainer to address both falling numbers of skilled workers and speed up the build process at a time when the country is in dire need of more homes.
The review highlights the construction industry’s dysfunctional training model, its lack of innovation and collaboration and non-existent research and development culture.
With more people reportedly leaving the industry each year than joining, the construction workforce is shrinking, placing increasingly severe constraints on its capacity to build housing and infrastructure. Reliance on a fractured supply chain and self-employment also means there is little incentive for contractors to invest in long-term training for the labour force.
Commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Mr Farmer has made 10 recommendations, one of which encourages large scale use of off-site construction – which is both less labour intensive and enables quality to be more easily regulated.
He says construction should be more like a car factory production line, with every section deliverable to a pre-determined quality standard. Mr King agrees that this approach is perhaps the only way to ensure increased house building delivery.
He said: “Creating a timber frame home is around 30% faster than building in brick and block. The bulk of the skilled element takes place off site. Timber frame walls, floors and roofs, complete with electrical wiring, plumbing and insulation are built in factories at relative speed.”