Construction News

Thu November 30 2023

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Contractors call for clients to drive direct employment

4 Jun 19 The government-appointed Construction Leadership Council wants to see more direct employment in the construction industry.

But it says it is up to the clients of construction companies to make it happen, not the construction companies themselves.

In 2017/18 there were 1.12 million construction workers paid via the Construction Industry Scheme, making them technically self-employed. That means 49% of the industry’s 2.29 million workers are self-employed.

A report by the Construction Leadership Council’s contractor-led skills workstream says it would be a good thing if this changed.

The CLC’s Future Skills Report1 follows a consultation exercise with several industry bodies, client organisations, the University of Cambridge and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, as well as construction companies.

The report says that construction has suffered from underinvestment in training and development because it is so fragmented, with a high proportion of micro-businesses.

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The report says: “We call for clients to agree a code of employment where those who contribute to a project are directly employed, thereby ensuring it is in the employer’s best interest to train their staff and benefit from their improved productivity.”

It also wants ‘smart construction methods’ to be encouraged and for industry qualifications and training content to include ‘smart construction’.

Mace chief executive Mark Reynolds, who chairs the CLC’s skills workstream, said: “This important report clearly sets out the challenge the industry and our clients face and the actions that must be taken now to avoid significant skills shortages in the future. When we have seen projects with higher levels of direct employment the results are often better, the workforce more engaged and ultimately the client and end users are happier with the final product.”

Laing O’Rourke commercial director John O’Connor, a co-author of the report, said he was happy with the outcome. He said: “We welcome this cross-sector report which details a clear action plan to address our future skills need. Ours is a changing industry and we need to attract digitally literate talent into our sector, who are committed to delivering projects in a virtual environment, integrated with an offsite manufacturing-led approach. Positively promoting such skills in our sector will ensure we continue to innovate in a modern and smart construction environment.”

1. Future Skills Report is available as a pdf by clicking here

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