If one theme can be picked from this week’s Editor’s Corner, it is that we must devote ever more resources to training in this country.
It is a point made before but without a well trained and managed workforce, the hopes of a sustainable and long term recovery from this dreadful period, will turn out to be illusory. In other words, think beyond the orders that may be currently flowing in to keep the machines busy to how to improve constantly what can be offered to the market.
This cannot be done with a poorly trained workforce, be it on site, in the factory or the office. The reports we carry this week point to the worries of a skills shortage. Nothing new there, you might argue but the more the economy and demand picks up, the more it will become a pressing matter. In its latest report involving its members, the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) notes that this is presenting a stark choice. “Although this snapshot of small construction firms marks the fifth consecutive quarter of positive results, if we don’t have enough of the right people to complete the work, private and public projects could be stalled across the board,” warned Brian Berry, Chief Executive, FMB. Mr Berry also expressed concerns about the apprenticeship funding reforms by the government.
The question of a skills shortage was mirrored by the latest Market/CIPS report for June which while welcoming the spurt in activity in UK construction, warned that this could have an adverse impact in the medium to long term.
This month we also heard about the government’s Growth Deals; an apparently ambitious scheme that will transfer resources and power back to local areas which have been at the whims of central government for decades. Now, how much is really existing money is a moot point and as ever, the devil will be in the detail. For example, the intention is that there will be ‘small business support services in every part of England and significant investment in skills training’. But as our American cousins are fond of saying: “Where’s the beef?” And we have seen above the worry about funding reform for apprenticeships as expressed by Brian Berry.
We really can’t afford to short change education and training in the workplace. As a country we have been doing it for far too long.
Brian Berry, Chief Executive, FMB – “…if we don’t have enough of the right people to complete the work, private and public projects could be stalled across the board”.