29th May Journal Column

Web-LogoBy Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

Late payment is such a big issue in our industry, and one I feel is never ending. Finance is a huge problem for our industry and a one I don’t think we’ve taken seriously enough in the past.

But, the government are at it again with new plans to tackle the ever growing problem. Their new plans are said to include a future consultation on allowing bodies such as the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) to act on behalf of their members to challenge unfair payment terms.

Also mentioned is the creation of the new Small Business Conciliation Service (SBCS) which will be put in place to help resolve disputes between small businesses and their clients. The SBCS is based on an Australian system which, as far as I can tell, has been a success in getting small businesses the money they are owed.  The measure will form a part of a new Enterprise Bill, which was included in the Queen’s Speech earlier this week.

I still can’t believe the government has to go to such an extent to put several plans in place to ensure that people are given the money they are rightly owed, but this finally sounds like something that could actually work.

However, the success of the SBCS is likely to be dependent on SMEs referring late payment issues and disputes in the first place. This has been the case for the current plans put in place; SMEs are unwilling to refer their issues and disputes in fear of jeopardising their business relationships.

From April 2016, large businesses are going to be required to publish information about their payment practices twice a year before they can join or remain on supplier lists. It is expected that they will have to report on their standard payment terms, average time taken to pay, the proportion of invoices paid in 30 days or less, 60 days or less and beyond 60 days.

Along with these new plans, there will also be measures put in place to reinforce the plans already in place.

As of 2018, through a deal struck with the Construction Leadership Council, a voluntary charter has been created which will encourage clients and contractors alike to sign up to follow 11 fair payment commitments, including standard 30-day payment terms. When the charter was announced people questioned its impact due to the low number of signatories at first launch, with many commenting that without further supportive legislation there wouldn’t be a significant change.

Well, now the much needed supportive legislation is finally here, with plenty of plans in place to reinforce the need of paying on time, so we should finally see that change we so desperately need. There should never be a choice for fair payment to be an optional agreement, people deserve to be paid, and on time!

28th May Newsletter

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22nd May Journal Column

Web-LogoBy Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

According to latest research from the National Specialist Contractors Council, the number of specialist contractors struggling to recruit skilled labour is at its highest level in 14 years. And, as a result of this yawned skilled gap, around a quarter of firms say they have had to turn down work- a figure higher now than at any time during the recession.

And the increasing skills gap also means that prices are on the up, with 54 per cent of respondents experiencing an increase in tender prices last quarter, double the level of this time last year. This might be good for us, but isn’t something our clients are going to like after too long I’m sure…

But it seems that whilst a skills gap isn’t great for our industry as a whole, it does offer some individuals a golden ticket.  We all know that our industry is hiring because work levels are on the up, which means that for those already working in construction, an array of opportunities are on offer.

People who would have normally been looking to move up the career ladder when the recession hit are realising that, after a long time, the wind is now in their favour and it’s time to make a move. And the current state of play in the construction jobs market means that individuals can reposition themselves to build a career in any company they want (to a certain degree). A survey by The Institute of Leadership and Management reports that 37% of workers plan to leave their job during 2015, a sign of the times and a significant increase from the 19% who planned to move in 2014, and the 13% in 2013.

It’s safe to say that construction is now a job-seekers playground with simple supply and demand pushing up salaries and the type of offers being thrown about. But despite the high level of ambition being seen across our industry at the minute, it’s vital that individuals remember that despite needing staff, employers won’t be looking to take on somebody who isn’t right, just to fill a gap. At an event I attended last week, I spoke to somebody who had interviewed three people for a site manager role a few weeks prior but didn’t employ anyone because they just weren’t the right fit. This is where the dark art of poaching begins to creep in.

If employers can’t find the right person from an initial advert, then the next step is to begin luring those experienced employees from rival firms and this is something I’m sure we will see and hear more of in the next few months…

21st May Newsletter

This week features a full list of forthcoming events, click on the link to view 21st May

Winners of the 2015 CENE Awards announced!

3O0A4305The best of the North East construction industry was recognised at the 2015 Constructing Excellence in the North East (CENE) Awards last week.

The awards celebrated all that is exceptional in the region’s construction industry and recognise those high-flying individuals and organisations leading the way in North East construction. Attended by almost 600 construction professionals, the awards recognised individuals and organisations across 13 awards categories this year.

Catriona Lingwood, chief executive of CENE, said: “Every year I am impressed with the quality of work individuals and organisations produce in our region. This year was no exception, if anything, the general standard was even higher.

“These awards showcase only the very best and they continue to set the benchmark for the rest of the industry. All those recognised on the night should be exceptionally proud of their achievements.”

Each category winner will join the other regional winners at the national final in London in October, giving them an opportunity to receive further recognition on a truly national level.

The 2015 winners were:

Heritage – sponsored by Thirteen Group
Winner- Dunston Staiths Restoration
Commended- Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project

Young Achiever of the Year – sponsored by Northern Counties Builders Federation
Winner- Jenna Graham

BIM Project of the Year -sponsored by CIOB North East
Winner- Pride Hospitals – Hopewood Park

Innovation– sponsored by Northumbrian Water Group
Winner- Pride Hospitals – Hopewood Park

Leadership & People Development – sponsored by Esh Construction
Winner- Willmott Dixon Construction

Health & Safety – sponsored by Association for Project Safety
Winner- Horsley WTW – Treated Water Reservoir

SME – sponsored by Gentoo Group
Winner- Hodgson Sayers Ltd

Integration & Collaborative Working– sponsored by Watson Burton LLP
Winner- Northumbrian Water Group – Accelerated Flooding Programme
Highly Commended-  National Biologics Manufacturing Centre (NBMC) Project

Winner- North Tyneside Living
Highly Commended- Procure 21 Partnership – Laing O’Rourke and NTW NHS Foundation Trust

The Legacy – Sustainability- sponsored by DAC Beachcroft LLP
Winner- The Core, Science Central
Highly Commended – Conversion of St Francis of Assisi Church

Client of the Year – sponsored by Ward Hadaway
Winner – Stockton Borough Council

Achiever of the Year– sponsored by Bond Dickinson LLP
Winner – Geoff Hunton

Outstanding Contribution– sponsored by Bond Dickinson LLP
Winner- John Waugh

Project of the Year– sponsored by Corepeople Recruitment
Winner of Infrastructure Project of the Year and Project of the Year- Littlehaven Promenade and Seawall

Building Project of the Year
Winner – Redcar Leisure & Community Heart
Highly Commended Project of the Year- Pride Hospitals – Hopewood Park

If you would like to view any of the images from the evening, please search ‘Constructing Excellence in the North East’ facebook page.

15th May Journal Column

Web-LogoBy Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

May 14th Newsletter

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May 14th 

8th May Journal Column

Web-LogoBy Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

As I write this, the UK election campaigns are drawing to a close. Following weeks of campaigning all around the country, tomorrow we will find out whether the coalition are here to stay or if a new Government is about to disturb the number 10 party.

It’s a nervous time for all those involved, particularly for individuals like current Construction Minister Nick Boles who, having only been in his role less than a year, is unlikely to stay around much longer, whatever the outcome of the election may be.

The Construction Minister role has never been a popular job, and this time around, it’s likely to only be critiqued even more as the focus on our industry being the catalyst for further economic growth increases.

This got me to thinking, we all comment on how well, or not, the person in the hot seat is doing, but when asked what it is that we want to see from the next Construction Minister, how many of us could give a succinct answer? The biggest things on my list would be how we make BIM a standard working practice in all construction jobs, how we make our industry a leader in technology practices and how we continue working towards achieving Construction 2025 and beyond. But there are many other things the person in question will need to consider too…

Take the BIM Task Group for instance. The group was put together following the release of the Government Construction Strategy document back in 2011 that stated all Government construction projects needed to be using collaborative 3D BIM by 2016, with all other projects, hopefully, quickly following suit. Yet, four years in and despite receiving funding for Level 2 and a budget to kick off Level 3, the group is effectively in limbo. The next Minister, in my opinion, will need to focus on bringing this organisation to the forefront of the work we’re doing as an industry, giving it a clear plan of where it needs to go so that it can, in turn, encourage and facilitate change in our industry.

I also think it’s about time that BIM started to grow up; it’s been around in our industry at a low level for a few years now and has been focused predominately on savings but we now need someone who will help us take it to the next level where it is all about efficiencies and collaboration. It’s a big ask, I know, and isn’t something that will change overnight, it will be a long process to stop people from being cagey about information and wary of breaking boundaries and collaborating outside of their organisation, but it’s something we must work towards if we want BIM to be universal practice.

Ultimately, we need somebody to take on the role that understands our industry and the impact technology, BIM in particular, will have on the future of our construction. Basically, somebody who walks the walk, rather than just talks the talk.

1st May Journal Column

Web-LogoBy Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) released its quarterly Construction Market Survey report last week. If you’re a regular reader of this column you’ll know I’m a big fan of surveys like this, but I have to say that I found the results of this one slightly confusing.

RICS has reported that the North East is suffering from both a decline in workloads and a labour shortage. I don’t think the results are actually as bad in reality as they first seem.

During the first three months of this year, 34 per cent of respondents to the survey reported a rise in workloads (down 8 per cent on the previous quarter), but 46 per cent of professionals said labour shortages were still an ongoing issue. This means that even though workload has slightly slowed down, it is still on the increase, we just don’t have enough people to do the work.

Whilst overall I think the survey makes it seem like the North East are struggling in all areas, figures show that public house building in the North of England is actually stronger than anywhere else in the UK. And in the private and infrastructure sectors, 46 per cent of workers reported a rise in household work activity so it’s not all bad news…

New research conducted by a leading business insurance website in the UK has revealed that the majority of young Britons today are not sure what different roles within the construction industry entail. Could this be one the reasons why we’re not getting enough people into construction?

Respondents, aged 18-35, were given a list of ten trades within the industry and asked to summarise each job role. Almost half claimed that they had never heard of a welder or glazier and 7 per cent couldn’t give a correct definition of an electrician.

The majority (67 per cent) admitted that they had never realised there was so many trades within the industry. This proves the importance of educating young people and making them aware of what the construction industry has to offer.

It has been suggested that the election is the reason organisations aren’t spending sending workload levels down; perhaps they’re suffering from a little fear of the unknown. The only way we’ll know is if the figures dramatically change come June.

Do you know what? Sometimes I think we need to look at the bigger picture when these surveys come out. The North East isn’t doing that badly so people shouldn’t be ruling us out just yet…