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'Skills are vital': MPs welcome report on state of construction industry

'Skills are vital': MPs welcome report on state of construction industry

Chartered Institute of Building | Chartered Institute of Building

4 min read Partner content

Labour’s shadow Minister for Industry and the Conservative chair of the built environment APPG have both responded to a report setting out the state of the construction industry today.

The report, entitle The Real Face of Construction and published by the Chartered Institute of Building, explains the increasing complexity and sophistication of the sector and its broad reach across Government departments from hospitals, schools, prisons, housing and urban planning to major transport and energy projects such as Crossrail or Hinkley Point B.

Labour’s Shadow Minister for Industry, Iain Wright MP, said

“The report from the CIOB is very welcome. It is a vivid and well-evidenced portrayal of what has happened to the construction industry in recent years. The report reinforces the view that the present Government made a huge error in 2010 in cutting back capital spending far too sharply, reducing activity in the construction industry at precisely the time when it needed investment and setting back progress in construction for years. It also shows that any recovery in the industry, although welcome, is disproportionately concentrated in London. This does not provide a balanced and sustainable recovery for the long-term.

I welcome the report’s emphasis on the opportunities the construction industry has, if the sector is given sufficient importance by government. The CIOB’s priorities on providing long-term focus for the industry and tying public investment into training and job creation dovetail exactly with what a future Labour Government will do. Labour’s strategy for long-term growth will prioritise the construction sector as a valued partner and key contributor to the prosperity of our country. We will put in place a long-term industrial strategy, led by industry, to allow construction firms to plan for the next 20 years and invest in new training, new jobs and improved capital equipment. We will emphasise the importance of skills as a means by which construction can become more efficient, innovative and more productive. I am particularly pleased the report endorses Labour’s policy on ensuring that all large suppliers to government offer new apprenticeship opportunities. We will tackle the acute housing shortage by building 200,000 homes a year. We will also look to implement Sir John Armitt’s recommendation for a National Infrastructure Commission, ensuring that the nation’s long-term infrastructure needs – and construction’s role in building them – are met. And Ed Miliband has promised to devolve significant new powers and resources to the English regions to boost economic growth outside of London and to ensure that the construction industry can thrive in every part of the country.”

Conservative MP Oliver Colvile, who is Chairman of the APPG for Excellence in the Built Environment, issued this comment:

“All over the country there is a real need for builders, plumbers, electricians, brickies and people who are trained in the building trade.

It is interesting to note that this paper suggests London is the one place which is booming. However recent results announced by Persimmon showing the wider growth of house building seem to be very encouraging.

The report is quite right to say that we need other centres outside of London for would-be builders, and indeed locating them near universities seems like a very clever idea, as youngsters who are not seeking to go to university should have alternatives available which are best served by further education colleges.

My constituency is a low skilled and low wage economy. There are sometimes complaints about the large number of Eastern Europeans coming into the economy, with many of my own constituents often fearing that they are taking the local jobs in the area. However, I would add that we currently lack the workforce or the skills to deliver that work ourselves.

Babcock, an organisation based in my constituency – specialises in the refuelling and refitting of submarines. They potentially have an issue in seeing some of their skilled engineers moving up to Hinkley Point power station in Somerset, which would then leave Babcock having to find new nuclear engineers. I very much welcome the Government’s proposal to create a nuclear engineering college which can help some of those skilled people and provide training.

Construction isn’t just about housing and shops. It is also about wider infrastructure needs, like building nuclear power stations.”

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