CITB-ConstructionSkills is backing the creation of a further 11 Enterprise Zones, which will to drive up growth and employment for construction companies in local areas with measures such as cheaper business rates, superfast broadband and lower levels of planning control.
The new zones were announced by the Government last week, bringing the total number to 21.
They have been placed at key locations such as Daresbury Science Campus in Warrington, north-west England; a region where by 2015 - construction employment is forecast to be 1.4 per cent lower than in 2009.
Enterprise Zones along with Tax Increment Financing (TIF), form a range of reforms which make up the Government’s local growth strategy, which is being implemented by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).
While these measures are put in place,CITB-ConstructionSkills is calling for needs of the Construction and the Built Environment sector are taken into account by LEPs. As a sector that contributes 8 per cent of GDP, and over 2 million jobs in the UK, construction has been ear-marked by the Department of Business (BIS) as a key driver of recovery from recession.
To maximise the economic potential of the construction sector at a local level, LEPs need to ensure that appropriate skills and training are put in place to meet the needs of the construction industry. One of the ways this can be done is by taking advantage ConstructionSkills local knowledge gathered by the ConstructionSkills Network (CSN).
Commenting on the announcement, Mark Farrar, Chief Executive of CITB-ConstructionSkills, said: “We are pleased to see the government has introduced 11 additional Enterprise Zones in order to stimulate growth. The Construction and Built Environment is at the heart of local growth and job creation in the UK, so collaboration between local authorities and construction businesses must be fostered to support long term growth and sustainable jobs. This, and support for associated skills needs, will be instrumental to a flourishing future economy for UK plc and its communities.
“We are working to deliver the right skills for economic growth locally and nationally and we are urging Government to use our local sector knowledge, such as our economic models and job forecasts to make sure that training is aligned to the needs of our sector.
“Our focus is making sure we’re adding value to the industry and ensuring the sector does not get left behind. LEPs will be responsible for driving economic growth in their areas, so one of our main goals is to see a construction employer appointed to the board of each LEP. By doing this we are working to make business succeed and grow.”
Representing the voice of the industry, CITB-ConstructionSkills is calling for Government to ensure that:
• A local member of the construction sector is appointed to LEP Boards where necessary
• A sub-committee for construction is created within each LEP, ensuring participation of employers and CITB-ConstructionSkills on LEP Housing, Planning, Skills, Employment and Infrastructure sub-committees.
• Our sector knowledge is used by LEPs to make certain that training is aligned to the skills needs of our sector, so that we have the right skills, in the right place, at the right time (Our Construction Skills Network is the most authoritative skills data for the sector and Local Authorities need to put its outputs to strategic use to predict future skills requirements and plan capacity. We have professionals working locally across the UK who give expert advice on how to address skills needs and can provide solutions to improve the health of local economies, while meeting regional and national needs).
• Any new funding model guarantees that the ‘collective’ sum of LEPs equates to a broader national benefit, fitting into national and regional, as well as sub-regional priorities, as opposed to resembling a collection of unrelated ‘projects’, or training activity.