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Case Study: Construction Skills
ConstructionSkills is the Sector Skills Council for construction in England, Wales and Scotland. An employer-led non-departmentalpublic body, it is responsible for addressing the skills and productivity needs of the industry, from site labour to architects.
An initial meeting concluded that, given the length of time required to train new entrants to the industry, particularly in the professions and a number of other highly skilled disciplines, the project should look beyond the existing five-year horizon to 2020. In 2007 it commissioned SAMI Consulting and Experian to identify key issues and changes which the UK construction industry could encounter over the long term and assess the potential implications for industry's employment, skill and training requirements.
Given the scope and time-frame of the project, SAMI proposed adapting the existing government-developed Foresight Futures Vision 2020 scenarios as an inital starting point. These scenarios had been built on an extensive review of national and global futures and provided a broad socio-economic and political background against which the construction specific scenarios could be framed and within which the key drivers of the construction industry could be incorporated.
The process of developing the construction element of the overall scenarios began with extensive desk research and contact with other relevant organisations to highlight key trends, issues and uncertainties in all aspects of the industry SAMI and Experian worked closely together on this industry consultation and the production of the report, with SAMI leading on the technical research and the development of the industry scenarios. Experian led on the quantitative modelling of potential skill requirements under each scenario.
There was also widespread consultation with individual industry participants and stakeholders, including clients, consultants, contractors and manufacturers, among others, through a series of workshops – some 15 workshops were run throughout the country.
The four scenarios were then developed, drawing a picture of what the construction industry might look like under each one:
World Markets: this is a world driven by aspirations of personal independence, wealth and mobility, a belief in the efficacy of integrated global markets and internationally-coordinated policy. In this scenario, there is rapid innovation and domination of major projects by international contractors with an emphasis on self-regulation.
National Enterprise: people aspire to personal independence and material wealth, embracing liberalised markets as an effective route to achieving their goals within a nationally-rooted cultural identity in a regionally unstable world. In this scenario, there is weak investment in new infrastructure and new public building, with an emphasis on repair and maintenance.
Global Responsibility: here people aspire to high levels of welfare with shared values and more equal distribution of opportunities. There is a strong focus on investment in sustainable environmental approaches, with tight regulation and planning controls and a high public sector investment and service profile.
Local Stewardship: In this scenario individuals seek sustainable levels of welfare within federal and networked communities, while there is an emphasis on small-scale regionally-based economic activity. Construction remains fragmented, with slow innovation and an emphasis on refurbishing and repairing.
The exercise led to some thought-provoking conclusions for the industry to consider. These include the immediate need to address possible skill shortages over the next few years, the increasing demand for environmentally friendly solutions, a stronger focus on a holistic approach to construction, and ensuring that enough training is in place to deal with change, whatever the scenario.
Significantly, the resulting report, 2020 Vision:The Future of UK Construction, published in May 2008, identified some early warning indicators that could help signal the precise direction of future change in the UK construction industry and the skills required.
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