Construction Industry Council boss slams “absolutely crazy” decision not to fund development of BIM skills

A government quango has refused to fund training in building information modelling (BIM), despite a government commitment to make BIM compulsory on all government projects by 2016.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) handed out £61m of funding for training schemes in the UK last week but ConstructionSkills, which bid to run the BIM training, received the second smallest award of all the 20 successful applicants.

The bid from ConstructionSkills totalled £5.9m and included training in BIM among other proposals, but it won only £1.3m to fund training for green construction skills.

Graham Watts, chief executive of the Construction Industry Council, which worked with ConstructionSkills on the bid, said: “It’s absolutely crazy. The business bit of government and the skills bit are so far removed that one bit doesn’t know what the other bit’s priorities are.”

“Even though cabinet secretary Francis Maude and the Treasury have said the government will procure all projects over £5m through BIM by 2016, this bit of government doesn’t appreciate what the significance of that is and isn’t giving the funding.”

Watts said achieving the widespread use of BIM was “twice as important as moving from doing work on the drawing board to doing it on computer” and that the industry faced a huge effort to be ready to meet the 2016 deadline.

Brian Berry, director of external affairs at the Federation of Master Builders, said: “The government is talking about having a joined up supply chain when it should be developing its own integrated policy towards construction.”

He added a lack of government funding for BIM training would hit small and medium sized builders particularly hard because they are more reliant on government training programmes and will bear the costs of training at main contractors as costs are passed down the supply chain.

This week the chancellor promised to “get Britain building” as a key part of his plan to drive growth in the economy.

A spokesperson for UKCES said: “We recognise the importance of the sector in contributing to economic regeneration; however, this is not part of the criteria used by the investment group when making their decisions. “

Steve Geary, director of skills strategy at ConstructionSkills, said: “We will look to discuss with BIS and the Commission other opportunities for funding, including the recently announced Growth and Innovation Fund.”

The business department, the primary funder of UKCES, has reportedly set aside a seven figure sum to be spent on training the industry to use BIM over the next few years.