Kevin Browning, Managing Director of Global Tunnelling Experts, has been pushing for the need for reform of the construction qualifications sector and registration bodies. Urging Westminster and other business leaders that hands-on and past proven experience counts for more than a written qualification. Now is the time for an overhaul of the sector and leaders to take note.
Leadership historically goes wrong when leaders lose sight of their people, whether leading a company or nation state. It can be far too easy to sit on a throne giving orders without realising the consequences.
In the United Kingdom, we are looking forward to an ambitious infrastructure program ordered by our current Government, to spur the economy and lead the economic recovery from the pandemic. In the Prime Ministers words, he wants the nation to ‘Build Back Better’.
It is, in my opinion, a very exciting and inspirational time to be a leader. We are not attempting or being asked to do anything that has not been accomplished previously, albeit not for a very long time on the requested scale.
The leaders and engineers, who pioneered the development of our great nation, did not have the luxury, or the hindrance, of modern-day technology and look at what they achieved. From the Palace of Westminster to No 6 Slip at Chatham Historic Dockyard to the first passenger railway station at Manchester Liverpool Road. These are great architectural achievements that represent the history of the nation.
They did, however, have a singular advantage; they had an abundance of cheap, disciplined but hungry labour at their disposal.
Thankfully those days have passed us by. We no longer rely on an uneducated and impoverished workforce, but we can do more.
We are now being asked to modernize current infrastructure and build hugely beneficial projects. Not only to bring the UK up to date, but also to enable us to continue to lead from the front, as a trusted and reliable leader the world can look to for inspiration.
However, we are being asked to do this by leaders who simply do not understand that the main ingredient for success is the workforce. The very men and women, who through the current training and site regulation requirements, are being held back.
To insist that everyone regardless of age, race, gender, or experience must have an NVQ is like insisting that every airline pilot who enters British airspace must have been trained in UK.
They are being restricted from taking up opportunities and led through a funnel of exploitation by the unregulated site training requirements placed upon them. Requirements that are causing much confusion and expense for the employers, who are being tasked to update the nation’s infrastructure.
As a concerned business owner and leader of the industry, I have written extensively in defence of the workforce that I, and other business owners, employ. Although, I am sure that many in the construction sector are hoping that I don’t write much more.
I am asking other leaders to champion their workforce, not only through instruction but by inspiration. To show the same dedication to the labour force that you do to your commercial teams.
To have formed a Government that can make decisions without asking the EU, after so many years of previous governments being able to pass the buck has not been easy especially in a Covid Pandemic. It has taken guts and resilience and most of all strong decisive leadership.
Regardless, the attributes above must continue down the line to the CEOs, Directors, and managers.
Every delayed decision and every wrong decision cost money. Ultimately much needed government money. Money that we must have if we are to build ourselves out of the debt this pandemic has caused.
I am asking the Government to step up to the plate, realise that by allowing in many cases unregulated companies to insist on NVQ as a requirement is keeping good, willing people out of work and if you are not willing to make this change - then stop the wheel and send the nation back to school.
By doing so the construction industry can deliver on the projects that we are being asked to complete. And we can do so by up-skilling the workforce and learning from each other, by providing apprenticeships for the younger generations and securing jobs for the many effected by Covid-19.