26/01/2018 – Industry Support Required for Carillion’s Displaced Apprentices


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

Following the liquidation of Carillion, earlier this month, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) is calling on all contractors and house builders to take on former apprentices who are now looking for work.

The CITB and Education and Skills Funding Agency have provided funds to keep courses going in the short term. It has attempted to contact the 1400 apprentices to discuss their future, and hundreds have already attended support events. CITB is also offering every former Carillion apprentice a face-to-face session with an CITB Apprenticeships Officer to find out their individual learning needs to ensure the next steps they take are the right ones.

The apprentices that will soon find themselves out of work, are primarily in bricklaying, carpentry and joinery, which according to the latest Federation of Master Builders (FMB) survey, is exactly what the industry and other housebuilders are lacking. The survey found that 68% of members are struggling to hire bricklayers, 63% carpenters and joiners, 48% reported difficulties hiring plumbers and electricians, 46% plasterers and 30% floorers. Figures are the highest since the FMB began their survey 10 years ago, so the industry is probably in the best position now to ensure the Carillion apprentices aren’t out of work too long – a silver lining if there ever was one.

With skills shortages at an all-time high and the governments ambitious house building target, of building 300,000 homes each year quickly catching up to us, we need to commit to recruiting and training the right people. There may be a skills shortage, but there’s certainly no shortage of work.  The skills and experience of these apprentices are invaluable to the industry and crucial to the delivery of new homes and infrastructure.

We work so hard to encourage young people into the industry and show them alternative routes after school, so it is important that the industry steps up to support these apprentices in their time of need. The construction industry has its fair share of difficult times and unfortunately on this occasion there are many people who will be affected. However, we must remember that the skills knowledge and experience held by Carillion employees and apprentices are of huge value to the sector. I hope we as an industry, can pull together to ensure as many people as possible can be retained.

A hotline has been set up for both former Carillion apprentices, and construction employers who are interested in helping them. You can call 0344 994 4010 or email carillion.apprenticeshipsupport@citb.co.uk to contact CITB’s dedicated support team.

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.

19/01/18 – Preserving Heritage


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

Here in the North East we are blessed with a fantastically rich history. Our rural and built environments show evidence of human habitation from centuries ago and the value held in within them goes beyond the obvious. Whilst our historic environments and buildings are undoubtedly fantastic to look at and explore, they contain within them knowledge and evidence of skills from centuries ago. Rebuilding, restoring, maintaining and upgrading sites and buildings of historical importance is an essential element of our industry’s work. We have a responsibility to enable people to enjoy and learn from these environments now and preserve them for future generations.

However, if you stop and think about it, this history is evident in so many ways, from the world-renowned structures like Hadrian’s Wall and Durham Cathedral, to the countless pre-1920’s domestic properties. Our industry must ensure we learn from the past and use appropriate methods and materials to secure their future in the most sustainable way. Preservation and restoration is the ultimate form of recycling. It helps reduce waste and ensures that the buildings work in the way in which they were designed.

The industry has really upped its game in terms of technology over the last few years, but for almost every piece of new tech, there are energy-efficiency lessons to be learned from historical buildings. For example, before air conditioning, structures made do with passive environmental control from cross-ventilation windows to shutters and bricks that helped keep out the sun. The high thermal mass of stone, as seen in most Victorian buildings, retains warmth in winter and cools in summer. When properly renovated or restored, old buildings can use less energy than modern buildings, even those that are ‘sustainable’.

Last year, the project team for the Co-op Development, Newgate Street, Newcastle were won the Preservation and Rejuvenation award at the Constructing Excellence North East Awards. The team rose to the challenge of restoring the iconic building after years of neglect. This category is one that holds a special place in my heart as it focuses on restoring and preserving the history and culture of the North East, and who wouldn’t want that?

This year’s Preservation and Rejuvenation award, sponsored by Watson Burton, is looking for projects that can demonstrate:
• Evidence of research and investigation into replacing, repairing and matching traditional methods and materials encountered with evaluation of alternative options.
• Choice of appropriate procurement that reflects the risks in such work.
• Application of well-considered and sympathetic technical solutions, both traditional and innovative.
• Delivery of customer satisfying quality and enduring outcomes.
• A clear commitment to the development of heritage skills and training opportunities to sustain heritage related works.
We know there are multiple projects which are eligible to enter this year and win or lose, the Constructing Excellence North East Awards are a great way to promote your expertise and knowledge. I anticipate it’s going to be a difficult decision for the judges this year.

The entries for both the CENE and G4C Awards close on Wednesday 28 February at 5pm. If would like to discuss your project or nomination with CENE please contact Leanne McAngus on 0191 500 7880 or email leanne@cene.org.uk

12/01/18 – CENE & G4C Awards 2018


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

Here at Constructing Excellence in the North East, we’re committed to working with the industry, its customers and the government to make change happen and deliver prosperity. Each year we also dedicated a lot of time towards celebrating what the industry has already achieved and 2018 will be no different.

Each year, we hold the Constructing Excellence North East Awards, our awards ceremony dedicated to showcasing excellence and rewarding achievement from organisations and projects around the region. We are delighted to say that the awards are now firmly established as one of the highlights of the business year, playing an important role in raising the performance of those involved in delivering the built environment. Over the last 13 years, the awards have grown significantly, with over 500 people celebrating the best of the region’s industry.

This year, our fourteenth CENE Awards will be held on Friday 15 June. As usual, we have various categories, including Integration and Collaborative Working, Sustainability, Health, Safety and Wellbeing, SME of the Year and our new category for 2018, Offsite Project of the Year. We are also delighted to announce our new headline sponsor for the awards, CDM Recruitment and are working with them to ensure this year’s awards are the best yet. Application forms for this years CENE awards can be found here.

For the third year running the Generation4Change (G4C) North East Awards will also be celebrating the outstanding examples of excellence and best practice from those up and coming in the industry.  The awards, which this year are sponsored by Northern Counties Builders Federation, will take place on Friday 27 April. They will celebrate individuals or organisations from seven categories, including Apprentice of the Year, Student of the Year, Trainee of the Year, along with G4C Future Leader (formerly Young Achiever of the Year) and our new one for 2018, Mentor of the Year. Application forms for this years G4C awards can be found here.

G4C is passionate about focusing on young people and showcasing the young talent in the industry. We are looking to celebrate achievements of this young talent and the organisations supporting and shaping the future leaders of our industry. We know that the construction industry in this area is of the highest standard, so let’s prove it!

We’re constantly asking for more from the government or in desperate need of workers, skills and new methods, but it’s just as important to celebrate what the industry has achieved. It’s a gruelling industry, that wouldn’t succeed without the hard work and commitment of its workers. If I could reward each and every one of you, I certainly would.

The entries for both the CENE and G4C Awards close on Wednesday 28 February at 5pm. If would like to discuss your project or nomination with CENE please contact Leanne McAngus on 0191 500 7880 or email leanne@cene.org.uk

05/01/2018 – Moving Into the Digital Age


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

Happy New Year to you all – I hope you’ve all had a lovely Christmas break and are raring to get started. I cannot believe it’s 2018 and another new year is ahead of us, but I’m looking forward to seeing what the next 12 months have in store– I think it’s certainly going to be a busy one! While you can never predict exactly what the year ahead holds, from the trends and announcements made in 2017, there are a few things I expect to see.

In the past, we’ve had a reputation for being slow to adapt to the digital age, but over recent years, the smart building tech industry has grown significantly with more companies accepting technology advances and now we don’t really have a choice, as Mark Farmer said, we must ‘modernise or die’. Digital technology will be rife in the next few months, with 3D printing, apps, robots, drones, to name a few, helping us carry out day to day tasks, there will be no escape!

I also expect we’ll see an increased scrutiny on health and safety in the industry. It’s no secret that the industry is known for the number of accidents and the level of danger jobs pose, but with technology advancements and safety mobile apps, there’s no reason companies can’t ensure a safer work environment for staff.

Throughout last year, modular and prefabrication became one of the most popular methods of construction.  By now we should all be aware of offsite construction, but for those of you that aren’t (where have you been?!), 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. Mark Farmer’s ‘modernise or die’ report stated that pre-fab housing is the way forward when it comes to producing more affordable homes to regenerate the property market, and I couldn’t agree more.

Off-site construction has many benefits compared to traditional build; it is safer, more efficient and has the potential to greatly minimise on-site waste. With price of materials expected to stay high in 2018, companies need to be thinking of ways to save money or cut costs, and this could be an effective way of doing so. This year, we’ve introduced a new award at our annual Constructing Excellence awards, ‘offsite project of the year’ and I have a feeling we won’t be short of entries. Application forms for this years CENE awards can be found here

We’ve overcome some tough challenges in the past and that only proves to me that this industry can achieve anything! So, let’s get our heads down and have a good year – I have a feeling this could be our year, change is going to come so bring it on 2018, we’re ready for you!

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.