The Industry Tackles Skills Shortage with Fairness, Inclusion & Respect

“Leading contractors and clients sign up to the Industry’s Commitment on FIR, as a key part of its strategy to modernise image and enhance perception of the sector.
An estimated £600bn of work queueing up in the National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline, a well-documented existing skills shortage, plus the prospect of losing up to 8% of the workforce post- Brexit are just some of the key reasons behind the announcement of £64M for construction and digital training courses in the UK Government Autumn Budget.

Welcome as that money might be, however, it is cultural change within the construction industry that holds the key to sustainable growth and workforce development through long-term talent recruitment and retention.

People need to want to join the industry and build a career in it. Addressing this burning issue is bringing together organisations from right across the built environment sector under the banner of Fairness, Inclusion & Respect (FIR).

The FIR programme is being delivered by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) and the Supply Chain Sustainability School with funding and support from the CITB. The FIR programme seeks to help address the skills shortage in the sector and the risk this presents to major infrastructure, construction and housebuilding projects.

Now, with the launch of the FIR Commitment: “Better For Everyone”, contractors and clients are calling on construction to take a stand and commit to change, says Chief Executive of CECA, Alasdair Reisner:
“With an unprecedented amount of work in the pipeline, it is essential that the industry joins together
to ensure that a career in construction is considered an attractive option for the next generation and that we retain and develop those already working in the sector. In signing up to the campaign, companies large and small are declaring their commitment to making their workplaces fairer, more inclusive and respectful. I’m delighted to see so many leading the way and committing to drive change within their businesses to make our industry better for everyone.”

The FIR Commitment: Better For Everyone represents a vital step forward in accelerating transformation of the industry. The sector has a long way to go, however, as illustrated by figures from the annual survey of School FIR programme participants.

The findings for 2017 reveal that whilst early adopters are updating key HR and supply-chain processes, almost 90% have still to fully embed these changes, with as many as 1 in 3 yet to even start:
1. Only 21% of organisations are monitoring diversity attraction and retention rates;
2. Only 11% are changing procurement processes to drive a culture of FIR into supply chains;
3. Only 11% have fully embedded FIR into recruitment practices; plus
4. Only 10% have fully embedded FIR into people-management processes.

Intended programme impacts are beginning to be evidenced, though, as a result of organisations of all sizes undergoing FIR training. Beneficial outcomes range from better understanding of issues on the part of senior leadership teams and managers, to improvement in articulation and behaviours.

The overall FIR project has been delivered with funding and support from the CITB. The work is being led by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) and the Supply Chain Sustainability School.

The FIR programme provides a range of training resources, toolkits, case studies, video and other
materials designed to help address the sector skills shortage and the risk this presents to major infrastructure, construction and housebuilding projects.

More details can be found at

The FIR Steering Group is made up of representatives from Balfour Beatty, BAM Construct UK, CECA, CITB, GRAHAM Construction, Highways England, Network Rail, Osborne Skanska and VINCI Construction UK.”

This press release was issued by Action Sustainability on 11 December 2017.

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