Construction contractors are rightly proud of the tools of their trade. The right piece of kit in the right hands can noticeably enhance their project’s quality, safety, timeliness and cost-effectiveness.
Perhaps, though, we don’t always share the same love affair with investing in training, skills development and vocational assessment. Often these are an afterthought, or are a response to necessity only. Yet there are many reasons why they should be the first thought of a business.
Consider these 6 points:
1. Staff retention
We all thrive on being noticed, feeling appreciated and being entrusted with responsibility. Training and development achieves all of these things and stimulates a sense of loyalty towards employers. In short, it encourages the putting down of roots.
Where growth is absent or stifled, things get a bit stagnant. Contractors in our sector ought to consider themselves specialists and as such need to sharpen their skills and keep up-to-date with industry developments. A key way to achieve this is by qualifying the workforce from the top down and then by developing that workforce through training, CPD, industry reading (such as this magazine) and attendance at shows, conferences and exhibitions.
3. Employee empowerment
When you invest in an employee’s training and development, all sorts of positive messages are transmitted their way. At the base level, being booked on to a course heavily suggests the employer sees them sticking around. After employees achieve qualifications their employers are frequently impressed by the increased level of ‘ownership’ their workforce has towards projects and the advantageous effect this can have on the outcome.
4. Principal Contractor
If your business wants to win work with members of the powerful UK Construction Group (and it would probably be crazy not to), then you should know that the UKCG prescribes to:
(1) a CSCS carded workforce
(2) a workforce correctly carded for the work they are carrying out.
5. Corporate kudos
International standard accreditations such as ISO9001 are increasingly welcome as evidence of sound corporate management by potential clients collecting back tender submissions and completed
pre-qualification questionnaires. Holding these accreditations noticeably reduces much of the input requirements. They help businesses to win work.
Likewise, nationally recognised skills cards (such as CSCS) and competency achievements (such as NVQs), streamline the burden of proof that the workforce has the skills needed to get the job done safely and correctly.
The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations were reviewed this year and once again focus on the need for employers and stakeholders to confirm that operatives, supervisors and managers are knowledgeable about their areas of work, possess the correct skills and are trained (and continue to be developed).
I have sat through several briefings on the revised CDM Regulations and consistently the finger is pointing at the achievement of vocational qualifications (eg the NVQ or SVQ) as a vehicle to prove that an operative is recognised against nationally agreed standards as competent to carry out their work role.
As another academic year draws to an end and youngsters look ahead to their careers there is some guidance on training opportunities available for those wanting to become stonemasons in this month's issue of NSS. If you know someone who is thinking about entering the sector, you might like to show them this.
And I hope you will continue to see the urgency and importance of qualifying the workforce!
Mark Priestman is a Partner at Priestman Associates LLP, a leading façade preservation project consultancy. From stonemasonry and heritage skills through to Site Supervision and Conservation Management, the partnership is trusted by the leading brands of the sector as an NVQ provider for experienced, upskiller and apprentice workers. Mobile: 07876 687212