Chamber Matters: Developing Skills for Construction
Published 28 Feb 2014Raymond More, Chamber board member and Business Development Director at Robertson, the infrastructure, support services and construction group, is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building and currently President of the Scottish Building Highland Association. Raymond discusses the importance of skills development to the construction industry.
The construction industry has had a challenging time over the past few years, with the recession leading to a decline in building activity and repair and maintenance, both in the private housing market and the commercial construction sector. As signs of economic recovery start to show, it’s more important than ever that the industry gears up now to provide the skills necessary for future developments.
For the Highlands in particular, with its diverse and disparate range of communities and buildings, it’s crucial that we develop not just our current employees but the next generation of construction workers to be adaptable and multi-skilled in order to meet the unique challenges the area presents.
I believe that partnership working will be key to this development. The construction industry needs to work very closely with its public and private-sector clients, as well as with trade and industry bodies like Chambers of Commerce, to ensure that it is meeting the skills needs of the future and remains a very important contributor to the region’s economy.
The industry is already working on a number of innovative solutions to assist with this, including the development of a Highland Construction Shared Apprenticeship Scheme. This will allow apprentices to complete a full apprenticeship programme by working with a number of different employers, helping them to gain the skills they need to become qualified. This scheme is to create additional apprenticeships beyond what many businesses are already committed to.
In addition to offering apprentices a chance to work with a range of employers and understand all facets of the industry, this scheme will also offer a much-needed flexibility to employers, allowing them to take on apprentices for a duration as short as three months.
The construction industry can offer opportunities to people from all walks of life. Here at Robertson, our employees come from a range of trade and academic backgrounds, and we offer a full learning and development programme tailored to suit our employees at whatever stage their career is at. Indeed, the founder of our business – Bill Robertson – started his own joinery business in 1966 and over the years has built up an infrastructure, construction and support services company which now employs over 1200 people across the whole of the UK.
The development of young people is a key strategy in our business, evidenced through our ‘Young People Strategy’. Each facet of the Robertson business is encouraged to engage not just with trade apprentices but also with graduates, interns and modern apprentices.
Construction skills are valued worldwide, with a range of British qualifications recognised globally, offering employees the chance to travel and work in a number of locations around the world.
As the economy continues to recover, both in the UK and worldwide, the construction industry will need an influx of enthusiastic, highly skilled workers to meet the rising demand for its services. It promises to be an exciting time for everyone in the industry.