UK: Contractors’ group B&ES is calling for changes to procurement, training and sustainability in a manifesto published in advance of the general election.
The Building & Engineering Services Association’s Business Manifesto is intended to highlight the issues it believes the next UK Government – whatever its political colour – must address if UK construction is to remain genuinely fit-for-purpose in the years ahead.
With 40% of the UK’s annual construction spend being procured in the public sector, the B&ES is cling for an online procurement portal for public sector construction projects and require all public sector bodies to implement online procurement and payment. In addition, it wants the future government to crack down on public bodies failing to meet payment requirements.
Echoing others in the engineering sector, the B&ES is calling for improved career advice, highlighting engineering as a potential career. It also wants to see increased funding support for engineering apprenticeships and the development of traineeships as an alternative.
Discussing the content of the manifesto at a New Year press briefing, B&ES president Andy Sneyd explained that, while the focus was largely on commercial matters, “It also highlights the growing importance of vocational education and training – at every level of the workforce – in ensuring that we employ the required calibre, and the required number, of highly skilled and highly motivated individuals, who are fully capable of meeting the challenges of an increasingly complex industry.”
He added that the Association was currently engaged in a sector-wide consultation on the new qualifications standards and new training arrangements which have been drawn up by employers themselves, and which address such issues as: the appropriate duration of apprenticeships; the competences which apprentices must have achieved on completion of their training; and the specific knowledge and skills they must acquire during the apprenticeship programme.
“There is no doubt that these new standards will have a significant impact on every organisation and individual engaged in building engineering services – and on the shape and structure of the sector as whole,” said Mr Sneyd.
The final strand in the manifesto refers to what the president described as “the perennial debate that continues to surround sustainability, energy efficiency, emissions reduction and the low-carbon economy”.
“B&ES has long taken a lead in the development of sustainable building engineering services – recent research having confirmed that the vast majority of our members are already involved in sustainable contracting, with many assuming a project management role,” he told his audience.
Mr Sneyd went on to recall that UK legislation required that carbon emissions be reduced by 80% by 2050 – and that Government had targeted a reduction of 50% by 2025.
“Given that as much as 60% of UK carbon emissions are from buildings, it follows that B&ES members have a key part to play in working with their public and private sector clients in ensuring the intelligent use of the technologies that are crucial to this process,” he concluded.
Copies of the B&ES Business Manifesto can be downloaded from the Association’s website at www.b-es.org