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ConstructionSkills working with the Welsh Assembly Government to address built environment skills challenges

ConstructionSkills operates across the four home nations, and is increasingly tailoring its work to the different political and economic situations in each one.

In recognition of the four nations approach, saw the ConstructionSkills Strategic Partnership Panel travel to Wales for its mid-year meeting and to get a good view of the state of the industry in the country.

The Strategic Partnership Panel (SPP) provides advice and guidance to ConstructionSkills on long term strategic planning, meeting quarterly to examine issues such as skills needs, training and education policy, and partner relationships.

The success of the built environment is of particular concern to the Welsh Assembly Government. It is more than a skills and economic agenda – it is seen as being at the core of many policy commitments; from creating better places to live, and improving hospitals and schools, to helping to address deprivation and social exclusion, and creating sustainable environments for future generations.

The meeting was attended by Welsh Deputy Skills Minister John Griffiths, who gave his own perspective: “The construction sector makes a valuable contribution to the Welsh economy and ConstructionSkills has ensured the needs of the sector are promoted widely. Our recently launched ‘Skills that Work for Wales’ strategy identified the key influence Sector Skills Councils will have in the planning of learning delivery. The strategy is a bold one but by working together we can unlock people’s talents, encourage businesses to grow and the Welsh economy to prosper.”

The SPP meeting agenda covered issues including sustainability and ConstructionSkills’ higher education strategy, and also provided an opportunity to explore what was going on in the Welsh construction industry at the moment.

The general view of the industry was relatively positive – though it is suffering from the same private sector housing slump as the rest of the country, high levels of public sector investment are keeping the industry buoyant. £320m worth of road improvements are scheduled to start in 2008/2009, but the main boost to the sector will be from the construction of two new power stations at West Pennar, Pembroke and at Newport. Demand for training and apprenticeships also remain strong.

The meeting also made reference to the valuable work of the Welsh Built Environment Forum, which brings together the work and expertise of the four key SSCs working within the Built Environment – ConstructionSkills, Summit Skills, Asset Skills, and Energy and Utility Skills – and is working to establish a broader, more joined-up approach to working within the built environment sector.

This approach led to the launch of ‘Building Companies; Building Skills – A Strategic Framework for the Built Environment’. This strategy focused on helping firms to engage with, contribute to, and benefit from the processes of change under way within Wales.

There are some lessons to be learned from the Welsh approach to improving skills in the sector and members of the Panel – including colleagues from CITB Northern Ireland – took away some inspirational ideas to explore further in their own contexts.

The next SSP meeting in early 2009 will be held in Scotland.

For more information on the SPP please contact

To keep up to date with all the latest news on what ConstructionSkills is doing and find out more about how your company can get involved in helping secure the future of the UK construction industry register for the Skills Update.

Peter Lobban, Colwyn Knight, Wyn Prichard, David Adamson, Mark Farrar, Sir Michael Latham and Mel Knight

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