ICE report calls for consultants' institutions to link up to share resources and conduct joint ventures.
Construction-related institutions should form a federation to avoid duplication of effort and improve the industry's image, says a new report.

The report calls for a link-up between the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Chartered Institute of Building, the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers and other bodies.

The proposed federation would cut administrative costs and unite training, commercial activities and membership, allowing the institutions to offer common services. This would allow joint spending on IT ventures, although the individual institutions would still maintain their separate identities.

Rethinking Professional Institutions in Construction, commissioned and funded by the ICE, says the move would bring the institutions into the 21st century.

The report says: "This would reduce fragmentation, set overall standards across the profession, provide protection of function and offer a more focused and integrated approach to the development of the new construction profession of tomorrow.

"It would help improve performance and show the outside world that construction is now a modern, integrated industry." The report, written by former CIOB chief executive Keith Banbury, follows extensive consultation with the government, 18 industry institutions, and umbrella bodies such as the Construction Industry Council and the Construction Industry Board. Leading construction firms including Carillion and Arup were also consulted. It is claimed that there was widespread support for a federation from all parties.

The report says the institutions accept that they have lost influence and status over the past few years and that rationalisation is inevitable.

There is also an urgent need for the institutions to set uniform standards in education and over professional conduct, the report adds.

It says: "The current situation where, outside the Engineering Council, each institution sets its own standards and qualifications independently of others is no longer acceptable." The ICE said the findings of the report were now being examined by the CIC.

ICE chief executive Mike Casebourne agreed with the broad tenets of the study. He said: "We need to identify times when it is appropriate to work together and when we need to stand alone. There are many issues in our industry that affect groups of professionals rather than individual professions."