Mark Farrar, chief executive of CCS, says that this is a major task. CCS has to engage with a wide range of public sector organisations, to influence public policy-making and engage with those who plan and deliver training. It also deals with a huge mix of organisations in the construction industry, from the large multinational firms to the smaller businesses that make up the building sector.
Farrar, commenting on the many organisations he has to deal with, says, “That’s one of our challenges but it’s also one of the strengths of the organisation — that we are vertically integrated across this whole area.”
CCS’s remit is to:
1. Reduce skill shortages,
2. Improve business performance,
3. Bring a diverse range of people into the industry,
4. Improve learning for apprenticeships, higher and further education,
5. To develop professional occupational standards, and
6. To support the development of low-carbon skills in construction. This is crucial, given that the built environment accounts for 47% of UK carbon emissions.
“The key message from us is that to achieve the government’s carbon agenda and its now legally binding carbon targets, a monumental sea-change is required in the construction industry,” says Farrar.
In partnership with the Federation of Master Builders and the National Specialist Contractors Council, CCS has launched a three-year, industry-wide Cut the Carbon campaign in England, Scotland and Wales, to raise companies’ awareness of the legislation, the timelines and the new opportunities presented by the low carbon agenda. Practical support and training will be available to help companies gear up for the changes needed to their skills base.
The government has set targets for carbon cuts by 2020 and 2050. The task now is to work out what needs to be done in the near future to reach those targets, particularly in relation to the government’s Green Deal programme, announced last September, which aims to improve insulation and reduce draughts in 26 million UK homes.
New building jobs
The project could create almost 250,000 jobs. However, to take advantage of the potential boost for the industry it is vital that these companies are equipped with the most up-to-date knowledge and skills across their workforce to be able to retrofit houses with the latest energy-efficiency technologies.
Also, the government has to ensure not only that workers are getting the right skills, but also that its own regulations spending are appropriate for the marketplace.
New government jobs
This agenda involves many arms of government. Its carbon plan, published in March, involved several departments, led by the Energy and Climate Change department (DECC), and including Business, Innovation and Skills, and Communities and Local Government, and other bodies, such as the Health and Safety Executive. The next stage will be including local authorities in the strategy to implement the carbon plan — not entirely straightforward because of the government’s decentralisation programme contained in its localism bill.
Farrar says that if DECC makes clear what skills are required, CCS can work with other departments and agencies, such as the Skills Funding Agency, to influence the shape of future training through FE colleges and other training providers, and can also work with local authorities.