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RCI January 2018

Zink INDUSTRY NEWS 01992 801927 www.almhm.co.uk “Responsibility for fire safety lies with construction industry,” says APS 006 JANUARY 2018 RCIMAG.COM Copper Stainless The construction sector has “come together with one voice” to warn the Government of the dangers of the industry facing a ‘cliff edge’ regarding access to EU workers. Seven of the construction industry’s major trade bodies have set out what they believe to be the sector’s responsibilities and requirements in a post-Brexit labour market. The seven construction trade bodies that support the manifesto are: the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), Association for Consultancy & Engineering, Build UK, Civil Engineering Contractors Association, Construction Products Association (CPA), Home Builders Federation (HBF), and National Federation of Builders (NFB). The ‘Construction Industry Brexit Manifesto’ commits the sector to doing much more to recruit and train additional UK workers to reduce its future reliance on migrant labour. However, it makes clear that this will not be able to happen overnight and that for some time there will likely remain an ongoing need for significant levels of skilled EU workers. The document sets down the industry’s key messages to the Government on what it will need from a post-Brexit immigration system in order to be able to deliver the Government’s strategic objectives for new housing and infrastructure: • The Government should agree a transition period of at least two years as soon as possible, during which time EU workers arriving in the UK should continue to have a path to settled status. • The post-transitional migration system should be based on key occupations that are in short supply, rather than on arbitrary thresholds based on skill levels or income. Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “The construction industry has been criticised in the past for being too disparate but it has come together here with one voice and a set of clear messages. We know we need to step up as an industry and train more homegrown talent, but we also have to be realistic about the future. There will continue to be some ongoing need for migrant workers and our post-Brexit migration rules will need to be fit for purpose.” Suzannah Nichol MBE, chief executive of Build UK, said: “Construction, like other major industry sectors, has substantial concerns over the impact of Brexit on its ability to recruit, train and retain talent. It is essential that the industry works together to present the need for an effective partnership between Government and industry, enabling us to deliver the UK’s infrastructure, homes and communities.” Prof. Noble Francis, economics director at the CPA, said: “Access to the right skills will be absolutely critical for the whole construction supply chain in the next few years if it is to help Government achieve its aims of building more affordable housing and improving the UK’s infrastructure, which will be vital for boosting UK productivity.” John Slaughter, director of external affairs at the HBF, said: “With the Budget having confirmed a target to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, home builders will need to continue to bring more skilled people into the industry. Companies are building on their existing investment through the successful work of the CITB-supported Home Building Skills Partnership, and are committed to doing even more, but to deliver the national, social and economic necessity of an improved housing supply, we will also continue to need access to foreign workers under a manageable migration system.” Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said: “With the country facing a shortage of skilled workers and the most acute housing crisis in living memory, the Government needs to provide certainty to existing EU workers in the UK and enable construction SMEs to attract more home-grown talent into the industry.” Construction industry warns against Brexit ‘cliff edge’ The Association for Project Safety (APS) is calling for all new UK construction projects to be designed by people equipped with the skills, knowledge and experience best suited to the project to help mitigate fire risk. APS was responding to the London Fire Brigade’s recent assertion that another disaster similar to the Grenfell Tower tragedy cannot be discounted unless the construction industry started to take fire safety more seriously. A spokesman for the Brigade suggested that it has taken a tragedy such as Grenfell for everyone to take fire safety seriously and listen to what the Brigade had been saying for years about aptitude and skills. Echoing these remarks, Bobby Chakravarthy, president of the APS, said: “The Association for Project Safety agrees with the London Fire Service’s submission to the recent review of fire and Building Regulations. Fire safety should never be considered an ‘off the shelf’ package bolted onto the construction design. Effective design which delivers intrinsic fire safety elements can further limit the risk of fire, not just for the people both living and working in buildings, but for firefighters and other emergency services who may be called out. “Building and construction companies and their clients need to understand their limits and responsibilities fully. Not one group of industry professionals has a monopoly on knowledge, which is why all projects need a suitable organisation to oversee all design decisions from a risk management perspective.” Mr Chakravarthy said he supported the London Fire Brigade’s comments that the responsibility for ensuring buildings are constructed with proper fire safety measures sits with the construction industry, however a general lack of competence means that perceived dangerous decisions are being made about buildings’ design or construction. He continued: “The construction industry needs to collectively examine how it minimises fire risk. Another Grenfell Tower scenario needs to be avoided at all costs and therefore a fresh perspective on embedding fire safety into the design phase is vital. “Construction defects and design flaws must be eradicated, so when these buildings are inspected in future years, they get a clean bill of health.” Commenting on the announcement that the construction industry has secured a sector deal as part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, Dr Diana Montgomery, chief executive of the Construction Products Association (CPA), said: “The construction sector has great potential as a key enabler of UK economic growth, and given last week’s downgrade from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) for UK productivity, this takes on a greater urgency. The newly announced sector deal for construction will be crucial for the whole supply chain over the coming years, especially if we are to help government achieve its aims of building more homes and improving the UK’s infrastructure. In addition, given the risks around skills shortages and productivity weakness, we welcome government’s much-needed boost to improve digitalisation and construction skills. Critical to the success of any sector deal is leadership within industry through the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) to offer an effective contribution. “The manufacturing and distribution of construction products has an annual turnover of more than £55 billion, providing employment for 330,000 people across 22,000 companies. The CPA strongly encourages government to ensure manufacturers and distributors are invited to make a more significant contribution to the CLC, and that ultimately what has been announced today is not harmed by the Brexit transition period and the UK’s post-Referendum deal once it has been finalised. As nearly 80% of construction products used in the UK are made in the UK, this longterm view will give our industry the reassurance to invest in our sector.” Government confirms sector deal for construction


RCI January 2018
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