Digital technology could transform construction – but only if the sector is equipped with the right skills and knowledge.

The need for digitalisation in the construction sector has long been a hot topic, but it has recently hit the headlines again with a new report from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) called unlocking construction’s digital future: A skills plan for industry.

The report details that without a widespread implementation of digital technology, there is a risk of marginalisation and detracting a new generation of promising talent from the industry. However, it also outlines that for the successful adoption of digital technology, the sector needs to be equipped with the right skills and knowledge.

Upskilling construction workers and recruiting new talent could help utilise big opportunities and prospects for the use of digital technology – which in turn could improve productivity, efficiency and profitability.

To build up the report, interviews with 35 organisations in England, Scotland and Wales were undertaken.

Speaking to pbctoday, Steve Radley, Director of Policy at CITB, said: “There is no question that construction needs to upskill and recruit new talent to harness the huge opportunities digital technologies present. It’s not too late, but it won’t happen without rapid action.

“Our report shows that the lack of common understanding on what digital construction actually means is part of the problem. Industry has to be clear on its definition and what skills employees will need. Sharing best practice will be critical.

“We will work with industry to agree on digital skills goals and a plan of action to achieve them. If we can do that, British construction can become more productive, more profitable and more attractive to the talented workers it needs”.

Stuart Anderson, the Client Services Director at Construction Skills People, said: “Upskilling has always been an important driving force in the construction industry, but now with the pressing potential of digital technology, businesses should push even more to make sure their workers are equipped with the correct skills and knowledge.

“At Construction Skills People, we offer a wide range of vocational qualifications and commercial training courses specifically for the construction sector. Any business looking to upskill their employees should contact us to find out more information.”

Construction training experts welcome campaign to reduce industry lung damage risk

Leading construction industry training provider Construction Skills People has welcomed a campaign that has been launched to find out what firms operating within the industry are doing to protect their workers’ health, particularly over exposure to dust and damage to lungs.

Although today the health complications associated with dust exposure are much more widely known, by no means has that eliminated the health risk that substances such as asbestos, silica and wood dust still pose.

As part of a campaign to tackle the issue, The Health and Safety Executive announced this month that inspections will be held which, for the first time, will shine a light on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease.

Inspectors attending sites across the country throughout October will be looking at the measures businesses have in place to protect their workers – specifically looking for evidence of construction workers knowing the risks and to check they are using the right controls.

 If necessary the teams will use enforcement to ensure staff are protected.

HSE’s Peter Baker, chief inspector of construction, said: “Around 100 times as many workers die from diseases caused or made worse by their work than are killed in construction accidents.

“Annually, work-related cancers, mainly linked to asbestos and silica, are estimated to kill 3,500 people from the industry.

“Thousands of others suffer life-changing illnesses from their work. Not all lung diseases take years to develop. Some, like acute silicosis or occupational asthma, can occur more quickly.

“We want construction workers to be aware of the risks associated with the activities they carry out on a daily basis, be conscious of the fact their work may create hazardous dust and consider how this could affect their health, in some cases irreversibly.”

Stuart Anderson, the Client Services Director at Construction Skills People, said: “It is important to recognise that these potentially damaging dusts and substances are a common find on construction sites, but ensuring workers know the correct health and safety procedures and are trained to deal with such situations will help to mitigate the risk.

“At Construction Skills People, we offer a wide range of vocational qualifications and commercial training courses specifically for the construction sector, and our in-depth industry knowledge allows us to advise our clients through the complex minefield of Health & Safety legislation and regulation.

“Any business looking to enrol their employees in a health and safety course should contact us to find out more information.”

Funding boost to provide construction workers with access to ‘vital’ training

Leading construction training provider Construction Skills People has secured funding that will enable access to vital industry qualifications for construction workers in key regions across the country.

Workers based in Dorset, Stoke & Staffordshire, Swindon & Wiltshire and Northamptonshire will all be able to access the training, which is designed to increase safety, efficiency and productivity on construction sites.

According to Construction Skills People, the fully funded training is available to companies looking to put their staff through a construction related Level 2 NVQ Qualification, leading to CSCS or CPCS cards for successful participants.

Widely regarded as the leading skills certification schemes within the UK construction industry, the CSCS & CPCS card schemes provide assurances that card holders have the required levels of competency to carry out their work on site.

Construction Skills People, which has access to both UK and European Government funding allowing it to deliver more construction related NVQs than any other training provider in the UK, is now calling on construction contractors to reach out to register their interest.

Andy Sheppard, Funding and Levy Manager at Construction Skills People, said: “Access to this training and the subsequent qualifications provides construction workers, and their employees, with a whole host of benefits – from driving efficiencies on site, through to increasing safety and reducing risk.

“The training is fully funded, and is a key step in helping the UK’s construction workforce to develop key skills and gain an impressive qualification that will benefit their career.”

If you are a company in any of the above areas, looking to qualify your staff through the CSCS/CPCS Card Scheme, please contact Emma or Rebecca at Construction Skills People on 01246 589444 Ext 715 or 607.

Chesterfield Training Provider On Track For Fundraising Target

Construction Skills People’s Stuart Brown with his medal, having completed the Shine Night Walk London to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.

Chesterfield-based construction training provider, Construction Skills People (CSP), is well on its way to reaching its fundraising target of £10,000 in 2018/19, thanks to the efforts of its employees who have carried out a host of gruelling activities on behalf of a quartet of worthy causes.

With just shy of £5,000 already in the bag – 50% of which has been raised by staff members, which was further matched by the business – the most recent challenge saw CSP’s Internal Quality Assurer, Stuart Brown, take on the 26.2 mile Shine Night Walk London to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.

Completing the daunting task in just over 11 hours, Stuart managed to raise an impressive £546, which was doubled by CSP.

This adds to the rapidly rising figure, which now sits at 50% of the company’s target; with £1391 already donated to Ashgate Hospicecare – the company’s official charity of the year – and £2200 helping to fund vital machinery for the Nottingham Breast Institute.

Commenting on his recent efforts at the Shine Night Walk London, Stuart Brown, said: “I initially signed up as a personal challenge as I hate walking, but I also knew that I could raise some money for a worthwhile cause.

“I took on the challenge with four other friends. We started at 9.50pm on the Saturday night, and completed it in 11 hours and nine minutes which wasn’t bad considering there was torrential rain and winds for the last six or seven miles.

“I’m delighted that my employer was able to match the money I raised, and I am proud of what we’ve managed to raise so far this year as a company.”

CSP Client Services Director, Stuart Anderson, said: “This is a fantastic amount raised for very worthwhile causes, and so we’re really proud of all our employees. We wanted to contribute to the effort they put in, so we are very proud to bolster donations.

“This latest fundraising initiative takes our total raised for the year to just a few pounds under the £5000 mark, and we are looking forward to further bolstering that figure in the coming months.

“We hope we can take that number up to £10,000 by April.”

To date, CSP employees have raised funds for Ashgate Hospice with sponsored walks and bake sales, a Sparkle Night Walk, and a ‘Woofs and Wellies’ sponsored walk, with the money raised going towards supporting the families of people with life threatening or terminal illness.

One employee also took part in a gruelling 19-hour, 200 mile bike ride from Edinburgh to Newcastle to raise funds for the Nottingham Breast Institute.

Every penny raised by employees has been matched by CSP, totalling £4992 to date.

Established in 2008, CSP is the leading provider of vocational construction qualifications and training courses across the UK.

World Mental Health Day sees roll out of construction mental health training course

A leading national training provider which specialises in construction has announced the launch of its first course centred around the mental health and well-being of workers operating within the industry.

Delivered by Construction Skills People, and designed to teach people how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and provide help on a first-aid basis, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an internationally recognised training course.

It’s official launch comes during World Mental Health Awareness Day – an annual event designed to promote worldwide mental health education, awareness and advocacy, particularly against the social stigma that many people with mental health issues face.

Kevin Hithersay, the mental health training provider at Construction Skills People who is delivering this course, said: “Mental health affects most of us in some way, and it’s important that we work to eliminate the stigma around mental health and encourage people to reach out if they are struggling.

“This training course not only will help workers assess and support colleagues who struggle with poor mental health, as well as their family members and friends; but it is also designed to help to reduce the impact of absenteeism caused by such struggles on construction businesses.

“The course is proving exceptionally popular to date which we hope is indicative of the recognition that this very important and very prevalent issue is now receiving.”

On completion, trainees will gain a qualification in Adult Mental Health First Aid, with the certificate issued by Mental Health First Aid (England).

According to the latest figures from The Health and Safety Executive, an estimated 12.5 million working days were lost and 526,000 workers suffered due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2016/17 across the country.

Evidence from the Mental Health Foundation further suggests that nearly 13% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions, and that better mental health support in the workplace could save UK businesses up to £8 billion per year.

In a bid to drive those numbers down, Construction Skills People says MHFA will provide the skills and knowledge of construction workers to be able to identify poor mental health, as well as empowering both individuals in the work place and communities to understand the signs and symptoms and how best to support themselves and those around them in recovery.

The MHFA standard course is split into four parts, including topics such as depression, suicide, substance misuse, anxiety disorders, self-harm, eating disorders, personality disorders and psychosis.

Construction Skills People, who deliver a wide range of vocational qualifications and commercial training courses specially for the construction sector, are keen to see a change in the stigma that surrounds mental health, especially in the workplace.

If you are a company on the construction sector looking to qualify your staff through the Mental Health First Aid training course, please contact bookings@constructionskillspeople.com or call 01246 589 444.

 

Construction Skills People delivers training & development morning at the MACOI head office

Recently, we were delighted to be invited by our clients MACOI to provide training and advice to their team members who are now embarking on a journey to complete a level 2 NVQ in ‘Fitted Interiors’.

With the professional help and guidance of Matt Rawson from Construction Skills People, those who achieve the NVQ will be on track to achieve blue skilled CSCS card status, which is recognised by contractors nationwide.

MACOI are a family company specialising in the provision of furniture and interiors to the educational and office space environments in the UK, and its business leaders understand training and development is a vital component in its mission to provide their clients with class leading products and services.

Every month Construction Skills People support the construction sector by delivering a wide range of NVQs to qualify operatives for CSCS and CPCS cards and deliver a diverse range of construction related training courses. To view there course please click here.

Growth in output and employment sees a surge in the UK Construction Industry in Second Quarter of 2018

After a relatively weak start to 2018, some encouraging news for the construction sector as comes in the form of new statistics released by the Office for National Statistics: construction output has increased by 3.3% in the three months to July, driven by growth in both repair and maintenance, and all new work, which increased by 5.3% and 2.3%.

Construction output also increased by £1.34 billion in the three months to July. Infrastructure was responsible for the most notable increase of £414 million. Other noteworthy growth came from the repair and maintenance sector as well as both non-housing repair and maintenance, and housing repair and maintenance which both experienced growth by £348 million and £375 million respectively.

In addition to this, activity in the industry remained above contraction levels for a fifth month running this August. IHS Markit’s PMI measured the sector’s growth which is down 3 points from a 14 month high of 55.8 in July. Despite the results falling considerably below economists’ expectations, analysists remain optimistic that the sector will be elevated by major ongoing infrastructure projects such as Heathrow Airport’s new terminal and the Crossrail rail Network.

It’s worth noting that the publishers of the survey attribute the fluctuating levels of growth seen in construction, thus far, are a result of the adverse weather we experienced earlier this year.

Despite this, respondents reported feeling that economic and political uncertainty, with particular emphasis on Brexit, was the main factor in reduced growth, believing that the unstable climate has made investors more cautious.

Another positive note to add is that as well as industry growth, employment has continued to grow across the sector, maintaining a 2-year high first achieved in July. In addition, statistics suggest that wages for construction workers have also continued to rise with an 11% average increase in pay since the EU referendum in 2016. 

Stuart Anderson of Construction Skills People said the recent figures from the ONS point towards a promising future for both employees and businesses within the construction sector. He said: “It’s encouraging to see the industry is still keeping its momentum after a somewhat difficult start to 2018.

“Despite there still being some concerns surrounding Brexit, the industry is continuing to grow with both employment and wages rising since the referendum as well as an increase in output growth.”

£36m clean energy government funding announced

Could the future of construction lie within green technology? Construction workers in the UK could soon be replacing bricks and mortar with smart technologies if new funding takes off on a national scale.

In a move that could revolutionise the industry, the government has announced £36m in funding for clean energy innovation in the industry.

During a visit to Wales, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the funding will be provided to Swansea in support of cutting edge building materials.

The green technology uses light and heat to generate energy which has the capacity to power homes, with the potential to replace conventional walls, roofs and windows to generate electricity which is stored and released by an internal smart operating system.

The funding boost comes as part of the government’s mission to lower the energy use of new buildings by 50% by 2030.

Stuart Anderson from Construction Skills People, which delivers a wide range of vocational qualifications and commercial training courses specifically for the construction sector, said: “This funding boost for Swansea has huge potential to extend the use of green tech in the construction sector across the UK as a whole.

“Using run of the mill bricks and mortar could eventually be a thing of the past, with the next generation of construction workers trained to build using high tech green materials.

“For now, it’s great to see the government future proof the industry by backing new and innovative technologies.

“As the country moves towards a low carbon economy, it’s vital we explore greener alternatives. This funding boost will enable the sector to do that.”

Manchester’s booming construction growth could be halted by skills shortage

Manchester’s construction sector is at an all-time high, with 30 building projects currently under way in the city.  

Most recently, research from data scientists Adzuna revealed that the city topped the charts for the most trade and construction jobs outside of London, with skilled joiners and plasterers in high demand as the city goes for growth.

But therein reveals the problem- a booming construction market has racked up demand for skilled workers, but as more and more projects spring up, the pool of workers gets ever drier.

Wages for in-demand trades like joinery have rocketed by 20 pc in a single year- putting pressure on contractors as costs are driven up, increasing the risk of many projects becoming unaffordable to complete.

Meanwhile, the shortage of skills is delaying some projects and forcing others to rush completion at the risk of poor quality work.

This could ultimately mean that Manchester’s record growth could come to a sudden halt.

So how can the city rectify the problem?

Stuart Anderson from Construction Skills People, which delivers a wide range of vocational qualifications and commercial training courses specifically for the construction sector, said: “Since 2007, the industry has lost over 250,000 skilled people.

“An aging workforce and the cyclic nature of the industry has created a real skills shortage, which is threatening future growth- as seen in Manchester.

“Demand for skilled workers is showing no sign of stopping.

“Upskilling the next generation could be the long-term solution to plugging the gap and future-proofing the industry.

“For a short term fix, contractors can also do their bit to attract workers. A safe, clean environment is a good place to start, and encouraging on-site learning and professional development will ultimately push current construction workers to remain in the industry.”

Slips and trips account for ‘staggeringly high’ number of workplace injuries

The most up to date report released by the Health and Safety Executive has named slipping and tripping as the single most common cause of injuries in UK workplaces including construction sites.

Accounting for around 30% of total incidents, the worrying statistics show that approximately 1000 cases resulted in broken bones or dislocations; with the latest data also showing that there were 609,000 self-reported non-fatal injuries to workers in 2016/17, and a further 70,116 employer reported injuries.

And yet despite the staggeringly high figures, experts operating in the health and safety arena argue that many such injuries could be avoided with the implementation of effective management of access routes and working areas.

Stuart Anderson from Construction Skills People, which delivers a wide range of vocational qualifications and commercial training courses specifically for the construction sector, said: “Like many workplaces, construction sites can be dangerous places if people fail to follow the appropriate health and safety measures in place to protect them, and others around them.

“Whilst slips and trips are not responsible for the majority of fatalities that happen in the industry, they are responsible for a staggeringly high portion of broken bones and dislocations; and in many cases such injuries were wholly avoidable.

“It is vital that construction sites are well-managed and kept clean and orderly to reduce the risk of injury and accidents, and to ensure that everyone makes it safely home to their loved ones at the end of every day.”

According to Anderson a lack of clear walkways, obstacles and wet surfaces are often to blame for the incidents that occur.

He said: “One of the most common causes of slips and trips can be avoided by providing clear walkways that are clearly marked and signposted, and provided with adequate lighting. Where changes in level are unavoidable, such as in doorways, consider installing ramps. And if that is not possible, make sure that any changes in level are well signposted.

“Similarly, some slips and trips are caused by building materials or waste getting in the way. This can be avoided by ensuring workers keep their work and storage units tidy, designating specific areas for waste such as skips and bins, and planning deliveries well in advance to minimise the amount of materials on site.

“Making sure than any slippery areas are well signposted and cover with stone or grit to provide traction is another key action, whilst also ensuring than correct footwear is worn at all times.”

He went on to advise that where possible run cables at high level to avoid trips.

“Such changes and implementations may seem small, and inconsequential,” he continued, “but they can have a really positive impact on the well-being of those people who are working onsite.”