Government skills review launches

In a latest bid to reform the sector and power economic growth, Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis and Skills Minister Nick Boles, on behalf of the UK government, have commissioned a major review of the construction labour market. The Construction Industry Labour Model Study will look at both the traditional barriers to upskilling the industry and the impact of new technology, as well as make recommendations to the industry, government and, potentially, third parties such as institutions and financers.

The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) will oversee the public consultation, led by Mark Farmer. The study follows a recent People and Money report, which set out a number of capacity issues facing the construction sector. Training is a complicated area for the construction industry because of the high levels of self-employment and often fragmented supply chain; the labour model also provides only weak long-term incentives for subcontractors to invest in employee training.

The significant skills shortage has become a national, not just an industry, problem and the skills review is a welcome step towards resolving the imbalance The report will also consider the way we currently build and investigate less labour-reliant methods of construction – not just offsite construction, but also innovations like onsite robotics, which would make the industry more attractive.

Recently the industry has come under fire from the government’s former construction adviser Peter Hansford for its failure to reform – Hansford believes the construction industry has failed to deliver a compelling investment case that the government can support; he’s called for action on the “unsustainable” fragmentation of the industry.

The CLC will report its findings to government in spring 2016.