New minister for construction launches body to give industry more say in publicly funded training.
The government this week launched a skills body called the National Construction Forum to give the industry more say in the planning of publicly funded training.

The group is made up of the Construction Industry Training Board, the Learning Skills Council, the DTI and the Department for Education and Skills. It will oversee £400m of investment next year.

The forum is due to draw up a plan by December, called a "sector skills agreement", to provide training to meet the industry's needs.

Sir Michael Latham, chairman of the CITB, said: "The CITB realises the challenges that come with an employer-led agenda and is looking forward to developing the partnership with the LSC to deliver the skills the industry needs."

The announcement of the forum coincided with the publication of the skills white paper, which recommended that the age limit for starting an apprenticeship should be scrapped so that workers over the age of 25 could learn trades.

Education minister Ivan Lewis, introducing the white paper in parliament, said that society needed to drop its "culturally snobbish" attitude to vocational education.

I am not one of those politicians who believes that everybody should go to university

Construction minister, Nigel Griffiths

Lewis called on contractors to become more closely involved in training.

He said: "If employers bemoan the skills shortage, as they rightly do, they have also got to be part of the process."

The drive to attract more skilled workers to the sector and to increase the number of apprenticeships was supported by construction minister Nigel Griffiths.

Griffiths, speaking at an industry reception at Lancaster House hotel in central London on Tuesday, said: "I am not one of those politicians who believes everybody should go to university."

He emphasised the importance of apprenticeships, noting that further education colleges could play an increased role in training.

Griffiths said there needed to be a balance between attracting skilled immigrants and bringing on homegrown talent. He said: "I want to ensure that we can tap into the talent at home as well as abroad.

Minister appoints head of Constructing Excellence

Construction minister Nigel Griffiths has named Dennis Lenard chief executive of the Egan body Constructing Excellence.

Lenard is director of business at the Australian National Co-operative Research Centre for Construction Innovation.

He has held a number of high-profile positions in the industry in Australia and China, as well as in academia, and was the founding director of the Centre for Construction Innovation in Manchester.

Lenard is also former chairman of the International Cost Engineering Council and was previously appointed by an Australian minister to the board of the Construction Industry Development Agency.

Lenard said he was delighted to assume the leadership of the £100,000-a-year post. He said his intention was to work closely with the strategic forum to create sustainable construction businesses throughout the supply chain and across the whole sector.

He said: “We will provide a framework for UK construction organisations of all sizes to emerge as world leaders.”

Nigel Griffiths said that Lenard brought with him a wealth of industry experience and an international perspective. He said: “I am confident he will be able to lead Constructing Excellence and help realise the government’s and the construction industry’s vision for world-beating performance.”