James Wates

James Wates

James has worked in construction his entire life and feels passionately that it plays a crucial role in the UK’s economic and social well-being. Through his numerous roles, he champions change in the sector – encouraging the investment in skills development, greater collaboration, and the application of modern methods of construction, with the ultimate goal of creating a higher quality built environment, stronger communities and a better society.

James read estate management at college and joined Wates construction in 1983, progressing through the management to running sites, before taking on a General Manager role in 1989. He became Chairman in 2013.

His key positions in the sector include: Chairman of the CBI Construction Council, Chairman of CITB, Past President of CIOB, Chairman of the BRE Trust, Non-executive Director of Argent Services LLP, and Co-chair of the government-sponsored Infrastructure Exports: UK.

In line with his belief that good business, well done, is good for society, he has taken on a number of roles outside of the construction sector, including Chairman of the think tank Tomorrow’s Company, Chairman of the Princes Trust Corporate Advisory Group, and Ambassador for the Young Women’s Trust.

In 2012 he was awarded the CBE for services to construction and the charitable sector.

  • James Wates BW 2017
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    We are reaching a tipping point for off-site work

    2020-10-21T06:16:00

    The strategy is in place and momentum is building. Now publication of the government’s construction playbook could help drive real change, says James Wates

  • James Wates BW 2017
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    We have risen to the challenge by working together

    2020-09-29T05:00:00

    At a time of national crisis the construction sector can be proud of the way it has put self-interests aside and acted collaboratively, says James Wates

  • James-Wates-BW-2018
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    We can boost the economy with good risk management

    2020-03-12T06:00:00

    James Wates outlines five key steps to improve risk management

  • james wates bw 2018
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    Genuine opportunity for transparency

    2019-08-12T05:00:00

    We operate in a fragmented industry and we must raise our game. Clear reporting by companies could serve to transparently build up trust

  • james wates bw 2018
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    Despite the Brexit gloom, there's plenty to feel confident about in construction

    2019-03-12T06:00:00

    Enough doom and gloom – there are many ways we are making this industry better, and many more ways we can make it better still. The key is to be confident

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    We desperately need to instil a positive culture - not box-ticking exercises

    2018-11-06T11:46:00

    We need to think differently about corporate governance to regain public trust – a realistic set of principles will help companies achieve this

  • james wates bw 2018
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    Social skills

    2018-09-07T06:00:00

    The collapse of Carillion should lead to a renewed focus on the positive impact that construction businesses can have on society

  • james wates bw 2018
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    Charting a course for change

    2018-06-28T06:00:00

    The construction industry needs reform – that much is clear. It’s time to recognise the factors we can’t control and tackle the ones we know we can

  • james wates bw 2018
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    Get better soon

    2018-04-25T06:00:00

    The fallout from Carillion’s collapse and the recent gender pay gap data underline the urgent need for our industry to change

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    Let's get it together

    2018-01-30T06:30:00

    To fix the industry’s problems on inefficiency and building quality, we need better collaboration between builders, engineers and architects early in the process

  • James wates bw 2017
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    Diversity is all

    2017-10-25T05:00:00

    The skills shortage means it is vital to recruit more women into the industry, yet the female workforce is still only 13% – so what should we be doing to encourage more women to join?

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    Ready for a game changer

    2017-09-05T10:46:00

    Construction in the UK faces some big changes and tough challenges - a CLC innovation hub can help the industry succeed

  • James Wates
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    Export strength

    2017-07-11T11:47:00

    If the UK is to win work on overseas infrastructure megaprojects, we will have to get better at forming consortiums that offer the whole package. The newly-formed Infrastructure Exports: UK group may be able to help

  • James Wates
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    How to get the best out of Brexit

    2017-05-10T06:00:00

    The election provides the chance to drive home key messages around areas for Brexit negotiations. If we come together, we can work for the changes we want from leaving Europe

  • James Wates
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    Train to win

    2017-03-03T06:00:00

    The apprenticeship levy is coming, so we might as well make the best of it. And how we do that is by thinking smarter and working together to make the scheme succeed for us

  • James Wates
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    Move on up

    2017-01-18T12:17:00

    Construction has always valued experience and ability over background and connections. But it can still do a lot more to help increase social mobility - and apprenticeships should be at the heart of our efforts

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    All together now

    2016-11-10T09:30:00

    The Farmer Review is the latest report to call for the fragmented built environment sector to embrace truly collaborative ways of working. The entire construction industry must come together if we are to fulfil our potential

  • James Wates
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    We need to enthuse young people about vocational training

    2016-09-13T11:17:00

    If we were to do for vocational training what we did for sport over the past two decades, investing in it and enthusing young people, the skills shortage that threatens our industry would be a thing of the past

  • James Wates
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    Why can't builders and architects work it out?

    2016-07-13T06:00:00

    Topping out ceremonies present builders with an irresistible opportunity to throw the architect off the top of the building but we need to collaborate

  • James Wates
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    See you in the boardroom

    2016-05-18T06:00:00

    Questions remains over the government’s target of 3 million apprentices by 2020 but we owe it to generations of young (and not so young) people to change our thinking about what apprenticeships are and how we use them

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