The latest Future Skills Report from the Construction Leadership Council says that contractors should upskill for the future by directly employing staff, encouraging smart construction and updating training in the sector.

The report challenges the industry to adapt to change to improve the poor image of construction, transform sector productivity, advance quality and create a sustainable and diverse industry.

It describes the UK as being on the cusp of “one of the greatest programmes of construction in history with a pipeline of more than £600 billion”. The caveat is a challenging context with the end of Freedom of Movement and the loss of 30% of the workforce to retirement at a critical time for the industry.

The recommend three key actions:

Direct employment– A 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 improved productivity.

Encourage Smart Construction– Create an environment where Smart Construction methods are encouraged through early design and procurement processes, creating the demand for skilled employees, which in turn drives employers to invest in training.

Update Construction Training– update qualifications and training to include Smart Construction techniques and behaviours with funding made available to accelerate adoption.

The recommendations are based on sound logic and detailed context provided within the report. It does not shy away from identifying the size of the task ahead and the challenges that must be overcome. But the jury will be out for a while on whether the industry – and government – will embrace the roadmap to a more productive future.

The difficulty is that the challenges are inexorably linked to productivity, quality, skills development and more. It’s like a jigsaw that requires all the pieces to come together at once. For example, without a change in the way projects are procured and managed, margins will remain under pressure, curbing the appetite for direct employment and investment in training.