26th May Journal Column

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Earlier this month, North-East born architect and TV presenter George Clarke launched a new scheme to attract more people into the building industry.

The Ministry of Building Innovation (MOBI) is an organisation designed to inspire new generations and encourage innovation in the design and construction of housing. It is aimed at kickstarting a fundamental change to the home building industry, attracting new generations into the profession.

Statistics show that we may need to recruit as many as 400,000 new employees every year if we are to meet governments ambitious target of building 140,000 new homes by the end of this year. The industry has an ever-growing skills shortage, making attracting new talent into the sector not just desirable, but absolutely critical if we are to close the current talent gap, hit the government’s target and avert a major skills crisis in the future.

I welcome the new initiative with open arms and am 100 per cent behind supporting new recruits, particularly students and young people into the industry. The future of our industry lies with the youth of today, so why wouldn’t we encourage them into the industry by showing them just how amazing construction can be?

George Clarke visited Teesside earlier this week to discuss this new building initiative that has launched in partnership with Teesside University. Employers got to hear about the suite of multi-disciplinary courses at all levels to attract new and innovative ideas and people into the building industry. The university has also developed a suite of courses in Advanced Home Construction and Advanced Home Futures. The courses offer a new look at the building industry and a broad-based practical approach which aims to attract learners from different disciplines, not just traditional architecture and enable students to explore a variety of specialisms, allowing them to challenge the status quo. There’s so much more to the industry than hard hats and muddy boots, and it’s down to us to make sure everybody knows that.

The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has also been working towards encouraging more people, specifically young people, into the industry. They have put together a ‘Think Construction’ toolkit for companies to take into schools to show young people exactly what the industry has to offer. It includes a film, presentations, case studies and games to appeal to children of all ages. This time last year I was asking the government to do more with regards to promotion of the industry and to inform parents/school career advisors and pupils that there are many professions within the construction industry, so for me, this toolkit is exactly what is needed.

I think we’ve all finally realised the importance the young of today play in the future of our industry and we know that the best way to make a difference is to work collectively and towards the same goal.

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.

19th May Journal Column

By Richard Waterhouse, Chief Executive of NBS

This week, NBS released their seventh National Building Information Modelling (BIM) Report, the first since the introduction of the UK Government’s BIM mandate in April last year. It’s great to see a lot of encouraging results, showing that the mandate has indeed given the industry a boost to adopt BIM level 2.

BIM adoption has reached a high point this year and BIM level 2 looks to be well established as the normal way of working for most practices to carry out their design work. Over 60% of respondents are now using BIM, up 8% from last year – the biggest recorded jump in BIM usage since the survey began in 2014. To change a relatively static industry like construction in such a short period of time is nothing short of astonishing and is best in class at a global level.

The design community is broadly supportive of the BIM mandate. Most feel the government is on the right track with BIM but the report shows, as with most things, there is still more work to do. Confidence in BIM as a skill is improving among the design team, 55% are now confident in BIM compared to 35% in 2012. Although a lot of work has already been done, there is still a number of people who need information, CPD and training. Whilst some clients lead the way on BIM, many others need further support and careful explanation of the process and its benefits – 72% of clients still don’t understand the benefits of BIM and this needs to change.

So, what’s next for BIM in the UK? In the next few years we can expect adoption and use to increase steadily, not just with existing designers adopting new, better ways of working, but those who have grown up online will expect to design within a collaborative digital working environment. Thinking about future use of BIM, 90% believe they will be using BIM next year and almost 95% of practices believe they will be within three years. While actions do speak louder than words, the rise to 60% BIM adoption over six years, makes me believe this is more than achievable.

The move to BIM level 2 is just the beginning, as the UK BIM mandate becomes embedded, thoughts are naturally turning to what comes next. The report hints at future technologies that will no doubt be significant to the industry: robotics, 3D printing, future cities and machine learning are definitely our future, and I for one can’t wait to see how things progress. We’ve come a long way since our first BIM report and I look forward to future developments, with the UK at the forefront of design innovation.

To read the full report visit www.thenbs.com/bimreport2017

12th May Journal Column

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Last year, construction company Esh Group began working on a Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) funded Carbon Coach course. The programme aims to help tackle the industry’s skills shortage and meet Government carbon reduction targets – two birds with one stone!

Esh Group identified the need to educate young people entering the construction industry in energy efficiency and awareness, and I couldn’t agree more. There’s always a need to educate people in something new, more so with young people coming into the industry, after all the future of our industry is in their hands.

The programme has been developed online which will upskill apprentices alongside their core discipline as additional learning addressing a skills gap. The innovative course includes four modules covering; Climate Change, Energy sources, Low Carbon Design, and Energy Management. It gives apprentices the on-site know-how to shape a sustainable future for the industry while reducing costs. It features interactive content with voice-over, which for some people is a more engaging way to learn and it’s flexible, so can be available as and when the learner wants.

The programme aims to influence behaviours in relation to energy efficiency both on and off site which will have a long-term impact for Esh Group and the wider industry. I have no doubt in my mind that Carbon Coach will have a positive impact in the region and provide the future workforce with high-quality, innovative training to give them the best start to their careers. By targeting apprentices early on in their training, we can help them to make carbon reduction an important part of their careers. Developing this programme for apprentices provides both the background knowledge and practical skills which will prepare the industry to respond to the Government’s 2025 objective ‘Driving Carbon out of the Built Environment 2025’ – which is coming around scarily fast as we’re already four years down the line since it was first announced.

Funding from CITB has seen at least 50 of Esh Group’s 108 apprentices, who are 11% of the workforce, trained in carbon reduction. It’s this funding which has helped launch the programme as quickly and efficiently as possible. There are so many potential apprentices looking for work and further training and as with most training courses, the quicker you get the ball rolling the better.

Constructing Excellence in the North East are delighted to be working in conjunction with Esh Group to deliver an event focussed on the Carbon Coach programme. The event will generate an awareness of the course and promote energy efficiency throughout the industry, featuring a number of workshops from Esh Group employees and industry professionals. For more information or to register for this event please contact Amy Holmes on 0191 5007880 or amy@cene.org.uk

5th May Journal Column

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

According to a new report from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), offsite construction could revolutionise the industry – as a big advocate of this method of construction it’s encouraging to hear, especially during the housing crisis we’ve been facing over the last few years.

Offsite construction is a modern way of building that sees the unit being constructed offsite in a factory-controlled environment. The building is then delivered to the site where the ground works and foundations will have been prepared.

Following Mark Farmer’s report entitled ‘Modernise or Die’ report, and government initiatives aimed at encouraging the use of offsite, it seems the industry is finally realising the benefits offsite construction can bring. The CITB have commissioned a report ‘Faster, Smarter, More Efficient: Building Skills for Offsite Construction’, which provides a timely assessment of how the adoption of offsite is changing the skills and training landscape for the industry.

The report shows that 42% of industry employers with over 100 staff expect to use offsite methods in five years’ time, of which, they all expect the use of precast concrete panels to increase and 91% anticipate the use of precast concrete frame to rise. Almost 50% of construction industry clients also expect the use of offsite construction to increase over the next five years – so offsite construction is certainly on the up!

Offsite construction currently accounts for just 10% of industry output and the CITB has identified a growing training gap. We now need to concentrate on employer training and ensuring everyone has the knowledge and skill to deal with this new method of house building. If offsite construction is the road we’re going to go down, and it’s the right road for me, it’s our responsibility to ensure the industry is well equipped to go there.

The report outlined six key skills areas related to offsite construction; digital design; estimating/commercial; offsite manufacturing; logistics; site management and integration and onsite placement and assembly. For offsite construction to be successful, there needs to be a clear understanding of both onsite and offsite construction and the two must work together effectively, so training in these six areas must develop to meet the changing demand.

The CITB have promised to work with other stakeholders, such as in design and manufacturing to apply existing training in a construction context and step up promotion of the career opportunities offsite can offer, emphasising digital skills, to attract a wider pool of people into these key roles – which all sounds good to me, but as the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.