Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Response by The Institution of Civil Engineers

  Consequently, some of the principal built environment professional bodies have drawn up recommendations for mitigating action on both an immediate and long-term basis summarised as follows:

  1.  Team effort:

    (a)  A concerted and combined effort between all the interested parties is required to ensure timely provision of personnel with appropriate skills to plan and deliver high quality infrastructure. The key groups are government, employers, professional institutions and training providers.

    (b)  The key groups should create a network to communicate activities and best practice and to coordinate the resultant activities.

  2.  Raise profile, status and awareness of professional skills:

    (a)  Education of the public in general and young people in particular in the exciting challenges in the built environment is a priority. In order to ensure maximum value from the available funds, the Institutions will increase their collective efforts in support of the Construction Industry Council (CIC) and the Engineering Council (from January 2002 the Engineering and Technology Board) which are the main recipients of promotional funding.

    (b)  CIC and Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) activities across the national curriculum in Primary and Secondary Education will receive full support.

  3.  Targeted professional development:

    (a)  Professional development needs to be structure to the requirements of the industry by annual evaluation of a skills menu backed by appropriate learning material. Professional institutions' core objectives should make provision for new skills sets.

    (b)  The factors that influence employers to develop or not to develop people with the required skills for their future business activity need to be identified.

    (c)  A review of the types of courses and research programmes available is required in order to optimise opportunities for retraining.

  4.  Best working practices:

    (a)  Greater use could be made of graduates from other countries (both EU and non-EU) and the exchange of personnel between countries facilitated.

    (b)  Working patterns and benefits which will attract a wider cross-section of the population need to be adopted.

  5.  Project procurement practices:

    (a)  Forward plans of government and large procurers (eg Railtrack, Highways Agency) should consider and define the resultant skills requirements and sources of those skills.

    (b)  Government can greatly assist the whole process of ensuring adequate future planning of skills requirements by provision of policy leadership particularly through a long-term view of funding and investment requirements to avoid stop/go policies. A rolling future infrastructure plan is required to ensure that all the elements in the planning, construction and maintenance chain can remain in place.

    (c)  Greater awareness of skills sets possessed by individuals would allow increased specialisation and improved matching of problems with the skills required in their solution.

  6.  Regular Monitoring of trends:

    (a)  The professional institutions should work together to define the data required and co-ordinate production and publication of the skills requirement.

  An action plan in support of these recommendations is currently being put into practice. Specific actions have been identified for each of four groups (government, employers, professions and training providers), all of which need to work together to ensure that the appropriate measures are undertaken. A copy of the report "Skills for the Built Environment: Team Effort" which gives the background to the problem and full details of the action plan is enclosed. The key issues for government to address are identified as:

  1.  Forward plans of government and large procurers (eg Railtrack, Highways Agency) should address the skill requirements and sources of those skills.

  2.  A long-term view of funding and investment requirements to avoid stop/go policies would assist adequate future planning of skills requirements.

  3.  Consider how plan preparation requirements can be made less resource intensive so as to release more resources for implementation and delivery.

  4.  Use best-value criteria and partnering agreements to strengthen commitment to appropriate training and qualifications in public sector procurement.

  5.  Encourage the European Social Fund to direct more funding for built environment courses to universities in eligible areas.

  In taking forward the action plan the Institutions involved have sought the assistance and advice of Government Ministers and senior civil servants in DTLR and DTI.


  Targets are useful mechanisms but do need to recognise the importance of regional differences. This applies also in the labour market.


  The programme set out in the plan may be difficult to achieve in practice because of skills shortages. Start up times and the programme should be adjusted accordingly.

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