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5.0 The ConstructionSkills Partnership

5.0 The ConstructionSkills Partnership

ConstructionSkills is a unique Sector Skills Council (SSC) in that it comprises a partnership arrangement of three organisations. As ConstructionSkills has been operating for around three years, the Chief Executives and Chairmen of the three partners saw this as a timely opportunity for reviewing the effectiveness of the partnership arrangement. Their view is that the partnership has matured to the point where it was felt that more could be done to bring together the experience and expertise of the three partner organisations at a strategic level. The desired outcome was the generation of truly UK-wide policies and strategies that would take account of the full breadth of the industry and its training, education and development needs.

The new working arrangements will ensure that there is a more effective use of time and resource through clarity of remit and purpose for each element of the governance structure.

It is recommended that the Council remains as the overseeing body for ConstructionSkills, and a reference point that is wholly representative of industry and key stakeholders.

The main proposed change is to the Management Committee which will be expanded to become the Strategic Partnership Panel; a partnership think-tank group dedicated to developing medium and long term strategies for ConstructionSkills on a UK footprint wide basis.

The introduction of specific ConstructionSkills working groups will streamline partners’ work in key areas, and provide direct input from industry on matters of specific interest.

The Standards and Qualifications Working Group will provide strategic direction and support for the Construction Qualifications Strategy and implementation plans to enable the development and maintenance of a coherent and comprehensive framework of standards/benchmarks and qualifications to support the industry’s targets for a fully qualified workforce throughout the UK.

The Research Working Group will provide the strategic direction for the ConstructionSkills Research Programme needed to maintain the organisation’s position as the expert on construction capacity, productivity and skills intelligence.

The Recruitment and Careers Working Group will provide strategic direction to ConstructionSkills on all matters related to the recruitment, education and training of all new entrants to the industry at whatever level and age.

Working across these groups will be a shared Communications and Marketing Strategy. Strategies have also been developed across the partnership for Health and Safety and Sustainability. These have fed into the ConstructionSkills Business Plan.

The chart on the next page is a diagrammatic representation of these new arrangements.

5.1 Modernising ConstructionSkills

Achieving Our Vision

Improving performance and increasing value for customers are cornerstones of the ConstructionSkills vision, ‘to be the enterprise people want to work with and for to create a fully qualified and professional UK construction industry’.

To achieve this vision, the organisation needs to:

  • strive towards continuous improvement, benchmarking against the best;
  • increase the contribution from non levy income and maximise return to industry;
  • cut bureaucracy and streamline processes, prioritising resources to frontline service so improving customer satisfaction.

    These priorities set the modernising agenda for ConstructionSkills, informing development plans across countries and business activities.

    Becoming Simpler, Faster, Closer

    Each plan considers what improvements are needed to become Simpler to deal with, Faster to respond to customers, and Closer in understanding and meeting their needs. Simpler, Faster, Closer have become watchwords for driving efficiency and effectiveness – in practice, examples include:

  • Becoming Simpler – encouraging people to seek change and simplify processes, and act on ideas for developing new products and ways of working;
  • Becoming Faster – allowing learning and best practice to be shared swiftly, towards being more responsive and flexible;
  • Becoming Closer – increasing strategic and market awareness to ensure people are well informed about their business and customers.

    Of particular importance are plans for developing a marketing-based approach, increasing back office efficiency, and raising commercial awareness.

    Developing a Marketing-Based Approach

    Customer expectations are rising. ConstructionSkills has recognised the need to be smarter in its dealings with customers just to maintain current levels of satisfaction. To achieve a step change will require different ways of working – tailored communications, products and services for different customer segments, and customer management based on potential for adding value. For example, Advisory Services uses a Value Chain model to segment its market and tailor its offering:

ConstructionSkills’ continued development of Customer Relationship Management processes and systems will support the organisation being increasingly customer focused and market-led. Better sharing and use of market and customer intelligence will increasingly improve communications and marketing effectiveness, as well as providing an evidence base for business strategy and product development.

Increasing Back-Office Efficiency

ConstructionSkills recognise the opportunities for efficiency gains presented by cutting bureaucracy, streamlining processes and using advances in technology – thereby contributing to increased value return for both customers and the business. For example:

  • NCC sees significant savings resulting from reviewing its training processes, resource which can be redeployed to support its growth plans.
  • Driven by customer needs, Business Services is developing customer-centric technology for its Awarding Body activities.
  • Uptake in online services will drive Levy and Grant cost efficiencies.
  • Harmonising processes and adopting common platforms nationally will enable Advisory Services to provide better frontline services for customers, reduced overheads and increased non levy income.

Raising Commercial Awareness

All business activities are looking to increase the resources available to them through working more efficiently and by increasing non levy income. Being more commercially focussed and adopting a more business-like approach will support the targeted step-change in new income generation, and make demonstrable improvements to the bottom line.

ConstructionSkills is working towards an adaptive planning and performance management process, to measure progress towards achieving these aspirations. Based on continuous planning and rolling forecasts, and using relative measures to track improvement, this change in the way people think about and manage performance will deliver a more flexible and responsive organisation, improved customer satisfaction and better value for money.

Striving for Excellence

Overarching all areas of ‘Modernising ConstructionSkills’, the organisation continues its active involvement with the Business Excellence model. Adopted over five years ago to provide guidance towards achieving continuous improvement in efficiency and effectiveness, the model is consistent with the aims of the Government’s Efficiency Programme.

During 2007, a formal external assessment will be undertaken to measure progress against the model. ‘Excellence in Practice’ workshops will also be rolled out to the wider management community, providing the tools and guidance to apply the model to everyday management activities.

5.2 Incorporating the Sustainability Agenda

The construction industry has a major impact on the environment; globally it accounts for:

Ÿ 10% of worldwide economic activity

Ÿ 40% of the world’s mineral based materials

Ÿ 40% of energy use

Ÿ 17% of fresh water use

The impact of the Government’s new UK Sustainable Development Strategy and its role as a client, together with a plethora of initiatives, codes and regulations are all driving the industry to build sustainable solutions. These include:

Ÿ The Sustainable Communities Plan

Ÿ The Egan report on Skills for Sustainable Communities

Ÿ The Sustainable and Secure Buildings Act 2004

Ÿ The new Code for Sustainable Homes

Ÿ Sir Neville Simms report on Sustainable Procurement

These, and other, influences are being factored into how ConstructionSkills supports the industry’s future skills’ development at all levels. The Government policy drive and supporting legislation for sustainable development (SD) is increasingly taking hold in the minds of the consumer, the requirements of clients and the practices of an increasing number of the larger industry players.

To make sustainability a reality will require everyone in the supply chain from investors and clients, through to designers, surveyors, contractors, craftsmen, operatives and end users (and many others in between) to know what their role is and to have the skills and knowledge to do it. The sustainability agenda is itself a driving force for technological change and innovation. The development of new products and processes now take into account environmental impact, durability and performance in addition to the more established concerns of aesthetics, workability and cost.

In early 2004 ConstructionSkills commissioned some initial research to identify key drivers, barriers, players, practice and the change required for sustainable development to take a firm hold in construction. Whilst there are structural barriers to change, sustainability is increasingly being enforced by legislation and the industry is being driven to act as well as being encouraged to do so with the prospect of increasing business opportunities.

Pressure from consumers, investors and legislators is accelerating and building up great momentum. More and more companies are now realising that SD is one of the greatest opportunities for change that the construction industry has seen

Major schemes like the 2012 Olympics alongside the drive to reduce carbon emissions through more efficient buildings, the micro-generation of renewable energy and a requirement to reduce the running costs of structures through whole life valuation, are all adding weight to the change process.. ConstructionSkills must help to ensure that the industry’s workforce is ready to meet these challenges and to benefit from the new business opportunities on offer.

The Sustainability Skills Matrix developed by the Sustainability Forum and handed to ConstructionSkills in June 2005 has been used to review skills and actions for SD in the industry. It formed the basis for the research on sustainability skills gaps and provision and the business case for sustainable development carried out on behalf of ConstructionSkills.

The key findings show that for innovative and leading companies SD is already a part of the way they do business. However, ConstructionSkills has a pivotal role to play in driving appropriate and timely change throughout the ‘long tail’ of the industry and ensuring that the right skills are in place.

The ‘Build to Last’ 10-year Strategic Action Plan for Sustainable Construction, which was launched in December 2005 by ConstructionSkills, is a flagship initiative designed to plan and implement change. It will be reviewed annually in light of external drivers/changes and industry skills/provision gap and analysis. Delivery of actions in the plan has continued whilst the details on delivery partners and funding are being arranged.

An example includes the work that ConstructionSkills has been doing to develop the ‘Top Ten Things’ series - actions that will help key players from across the sector to understand what sustainable construction means to them in their roles and to put it into practice – from project conception to final construction.

Following the dramatic publication of the Stern review it is almost certain that industry will face a new raft of regulatory change. This provides opportunities for ConstructionSkills to take a lead in the increasingly relevant Sustainable Development agenda and to guide the industry through the inevitable skills changes that will be needed in the new and emerging business environment.

ConstructionSkills plans to continue to develop tools, services and products to support the industry at all levels in its drive to more sustainable development

Construction Industry Council
CITB Northern Ireland
Skills for Business Network

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ConstructionSkills is not a legally formed partnership. Arrangements between the partner organisations are set out in Memoranda of Understanding.

CITB-ConstructionSkills and MRM Solutions, Build to Last, 2004