A trained workforce is no longer an optional extra or something we can’t afford. Major clients demand it
The industry has tended to leave training to someone else, but a new factor has now emerged. The industry was shocked by its appalling safety record in 2000, and was rightly reprimanded by the deputy prime minister at the safety summit in February last year. John Prescott made it clear that if the industry did not put its house in order very quickly, he would introduce new laws to do it for them.
The MCG responded by undertaking that all of their site operatives would be fully qualified by the end of 2003. Since few major contractors employ much operative labour, that required their subcontractors to ensure that their workforce was up to scratch.
A method was available – the Construction Skills Certificate Scheme. Once it became clear, in early 2002, that the MCG was serious about its qualification pledge, the registration staff were swamped by the demand for certificates. The CITB has also rapidly accelerated its Onsite Assessment and Training Programme to deliver certification to adult employees who have skills but do not have qualifications such as NVQ/SVQ3.
A trained workforce is no longer an optional extra or something we cannot afford. Major clients are increasingly demanding it. We will all need to train and qualify for it. CITB grants exist to help us do so. And if we are worried about someone pinching our apprentice, we have a simple remedy – make sure that our companies and our sites are so driven by respect for people that the apprentice will wish to stay with us, rise through the company and perhaps end up running it.