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 2018
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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?

  • 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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    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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    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 bw 2017
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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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    Facing an uncertain future

    2015-11-03T16:54:00

    This government’s shift into a higher gear has presented many positives for the industry but there are still question marks around apprenticeships. How can we best deliver a new generation of skilled construction workers?

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    The Professionals

    2016-01-27T06:00:00

    In the built environment, professionalism has largely been the preserve of the consultants and designers in charge of the ‘virtual’ part of construction. But ‘real’ construction needs these values too - in spades

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    So what do you think of it so far?

    2016-03-23T11:00:00

    Six months in and Build UK is already making a difference on illegal working, pre-qualification, payment issues, the skills shortage and apprenticeships. It’s also got different parts of the industry talking to each other

  • 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

  • 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

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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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    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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    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

  • Open Mike
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    Full steam ahead, all guns blazing

    2006-10-13T00:00:00

    As a lobbying group the construction industry acts like a bunch of weekend sailors on a pleasure cruise. James Wates thinks it needs to turn itself into a disciplined navy

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    Construction's oldest foe

    2013-09-20T09:00:00

    James Wates says issues like blacklisting are threatening the industry’s reputation and can turn young people away from construction

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    The skills shortage may drag construction down

    2013-12-06T10:08:00

    This week’s OECD international league table on education reminds us in the UK that we can take nothing for granted - and that’s true too of construction

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    We must make ourselves open to new forms of finance

    2014-01-21T06:00:00

    The government should seize the chance to bring Chinese investment into HS2 and construction should play its role by developing new funding models

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    Let's build communities, not just buildings

    2014-02-24T08:30:00

    When we think about what we build and who we build it for, we should think about the wider wiring of the country and about what makes a community

  • James Wates
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    Over to you: Osborne's simple act of trust

    2014-03-28T06:00:00

    The chancellor’s Budget decision to give pensioners more control over their pension pot was a great example of how politicians should trust the electorate to make sensible decisions. Let’s have more of it

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