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
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
(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
(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
(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
(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.