Education and skills are critical: construction industry responds to Spring Budget
As the Chancellor Philip Hammond delivers his 2017 Budget, the Chartered Institute of Building’s Eddie Tuttle reacts to today’s headline announcements affecting construction and the built environment.
The Chancellor stated that productivity was “at the very heart” of the government’s economic plan. We are keen to work with the Government to ensure construction’s contribution to improving productivity in the wider economy is better recognised.
We also need to fully understand just how big an industry construction is and what it supports in order to get a fuller picture about productivity – data at the moment only measures on-site work and there are huge gaps in public understanding. The National Productivity Investment Fund announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement last year should be used as a lever to help understand this wider impact.
Regional investment that adds value throughout the country is welcomed, not least to close the investment and productivity gap between London and the rest of the UK. But for this to work, investment must be tied to training and job creation. CIOB, alongside other industry bodies, will be producing a report later this year on the value of regional investment in the UK, which aims to improve the construction-related investment decisions made by policy makers.
Training and Skills
We welcome the £500m increase in funding for technical education, though it is unlikely this will help reduce existing pressing skills shortages. Achieving greater parity between academic and vocational education and providing ‘work-ready’ employees is particularly crucial in construction. The offer within these ‘T-levels’ of a high quality work placement is vital; alongside further education institutes and employers, we as a professional body look forward to working with the Government to develop these qualifications.
The importance of skilled trades and the construction industry need to be made clear: while other industries, such as manufacturing, have shed skilled workers, the construction industry maintains a third of all employment in this occupation group, and this is predicted to only grow further in the future. Skilled trades not only provide solid earnings in themselves, but provide many with an opportunity and a platform for progression within their career through to management and professional roles.
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