27 Oct 2015
Offsite Construction Study Recommends Industry Collaboration
A Government study has concluded that employers in the offsite construction sector should work together to capitalise on available growth opportunities. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) has published the findings of its UK Futures Programme (UKFP) study of offsite construction. The publication is an evaluation of five pilot projects led by Skanska, Laing O’Rourke, Steel Construction Institute (SCI), Edinburgh Napier University and Buildoffsite. The report, funded by UKCES, demonstrates the ‘clear need’ for industry leadership to capitalise on the opportunities afforded by the industrialisation of the sector. In addition, the publication states: “Employers can raise the bar on skills in sectors, regions and supply chains, by working with each other, their employees, universities and professional associations. “Collaboration has been shown to be vital to building the skills needed for growth and the topic of skills has brought competing businesses together to address their common need. “Competitors can become collaborators where there is a commonly experienced challenge which can be better tackled together and where there is a foundation of strong individual or group relationships which can be built upon.”

It added: “Educators and businesses must work more closely together to ensure educational institutions and professionals keep up with technological advancements and ensure innovation can be capitalised upon.” Areas addressed through the five projects included management skills, operational skills and developing contextual understanding of the offsite construction sector. Specifically, these projects are: • Skanska: Created an employer-led Offsite Management School with over 200 unique member companies and almost 300 individual learners. • Laing O’Rourke: Reveloped a live site scenario for training solutions allowing changes to be implemented in real time, cutting delays, improving ways of working and reducing waste. • SCI: Consulted with over 75 companies to develop and test online learning and training resources, with over 1000 requests for best practice tools from the sector. • Edinburgh Napier University: Created an ‘Offsite Construction Hub’ to define and showcase skill requirements and encourage collaboration between professions, engaging with over 200 employers to gather a broader sector understanding. • Buildoffsite: Expanded their online comparison tool to evaluate onsite and offsite solutions at the early development stage; encouraging employers, surveyors, architects and engineers to consider offsite alternatives before committing to design solutions. UKCES assistant director Carol Stanfield said: “The challenge has supported businesses in the off-site construction sector to tackle specific issues prompted by technological developments. However, much of the learning that we gathered from these projects, about collaboration and sharing best practice, is applicable to any sector facing similar technological change – something that is currently affecting almost the entire economy.”


27 Oct 2015

Manchester ‘constrained’ by national apprenticeship system, says leader

Manchester City Council has called on the government to give it greater control over apprenticeships to help plug the growing skills gap in the construction industry.

Council leader Sir Richard Leese told Construction News the city’s devolution deal had not given it sufficient freedom over apprenticeships.

He added that apprenticeships should be targeting those aged over 19, rather than 16 to 19-year-olds, as they currently are.

“We are constrained by national rules at the moment and don’t think devolution currently will give us the freedoms that we need around apprenticeships,” Sir Richard said.

“That’s something we need to continue arguing for: to get that control over apprenticeships that would allow us to have an offer that is far better geared up to what the [construction] industry needs and what young people are looking for.

“Young people now are largely staying in full-time education until they are 18 years old and the industry itself tends to prefer slightly more mature apprentices, so if we can put those two things together that will help us enormously.”

The leader said the council was “hoping for good news” on apprenticeships in the government’s upcoming spending review, with the request forming part of the council’s submission.

What are your views?