“Investing in Training today for a safer and more sustainable tomorrow”.
In the dynamic and ever-changing world of the construction and utilities industries, where progress is marked by towering structures and intricate infrastructure, safety stands as the cornerstone of success. As custodians of their organisation's well-being, company directors bear a profound responsibility to prioritise staff training and safety, enhance RIDDOR reporting and bridge skills gaps within the sector.
A spotlight is now shining on the imperative need for robust staff training as the sector grapples with a persistent skills gap and industry leaders are acknowledging that investing in employee development is not just a strategic move, but a fundamental necessity for the future.
This article explores the importance of initiatives for the sustained growth and resilience of businesses in this domain.
Company directors must champion a culture where safety is not just a policy but a way of life. With construction and utility projects often involving complex machinery and hazardous conditions, ensuring that every worker is well-versed in safety protocols in non-negotiable. In a recent hse.gov.uk article, reported fatality figures show 135 workers died in work-related incidents in Great Britain in 2022/23, higher than the previous year. Industries with the highest deaths place construction (45) at the top and the three most common causes of fatal injuries are falls from height (40), being struck by a moving object (29), and being struck by a moving vehicle (20).
HSE’s Chief Executive Sarah Albon said: “Any loss of life in the workplace is a tragedy.”
“While these figures show Great Britain is one of the safest countries in the world to work, safety must continue to be at the top of everyone’s agenda.”
Training programmes that prioritise safety not only protect the workforce but also contribute to a positive industry reputation.
Directors hold a legal and ethical duty to provide a safe working environment. Neglecting safety training not only jeopardises the well-being of employees but also exposes organisations to legal liabilities. Directors should encourage health and safety awareness, a transparent reporting culture, ensuring that even minor incidents are documented and analysed for preventive measures.
Prioritising training showcases a commitment to compliance and ethical business practices.
Although the UK economy faced a recession in 2023, we expect to see slow growth from 2024. Despite current economic uncertainty, recruiting and developing a workforce equipped with up-to-date skills, while grappling with a chasm between the demand for skilled workers and the available workforce, remains vital to ensure the industry can contribute to economic growth.
In response to the evolving needs of the industry; training programmes are embracing technology-driven solutions. Virtual reality simulations, online courses, and interactive modules are becoming more integral components of training initiatives, offering a more engaging and accessible learning experience for workers.
Many certificates in the construction industry have expiration dates, especially those related to safety and specialised skills, therefore directors have the responsibility to invest in ongoing training programmes to reduce skills gaps, ensuring that employees are proficient in the latest technologies, safety protocols and industry best practices. This gap, if unaddressed, poses a threat to project timelines, increases risks on site, hampers innovation and compromises overall industry growth.
An increase of just under 45,000 skilled construction workers per year is needed over the next five years to meet expected output, yet a decline in training participation has occurred alongside a fall in both public and private investment in training. Average employer spending on training has also decreased by 27% per trainee since 2011 but adult skills funding is set to increase by 11% on today’s levels, reaching around £4.7 billion by 2024–25, according to the ISF (Institute of Fiscal Studies).
CITB continues to support with investing over £100m into the grants scheme, including doubling the short course grant rates to between £60 and £240 which supports employers with the cost of core skills training. This coupled with the Construction Leadership Council’s (CLC) Skills Plan for 2023-2024, includes key priority areas such as ‘The Apprenticeship Levy pledge campaign’, encourages larger firms to transfer unspent Levy funds, and shows collaboration between government, organisations and employers in addressing construction and built environment’s skills needs.
In conclusion, the clarion call for staff training reverberates louder than ever and the responsibility of company directors in the construction and utilities industry extends beyond profit margins and project timelines. It encompasses the well-being of the workforce, industry reputation and the long-term sustainability of businesses. By embracing this call, prioritising safety training, increasing RIDDOR reporting which is fundamental for improving industry-wide safety standards, and closing skills gaps, directors not only fulfil their obligations but also pave the way for safer, more resilient, and prosperous industry and safeguard their immediate project interest, ensuring they are better equipped for the challenges of tomorrow.
As guardians of their organisation's future, directors must recognise that investing in people is an investment in the industry’s success. A well-trained workforce is a confident and productive one. Therefore, by investing in staff training, directors also contribute to higher employee morale, job satisfaction and overall capacity. This in turn leads to improved project outcomes, longevity, and long-term business success and directors who prioritise training not only ensure their organisations remain at the forefront of innovation and excellence but also attract and retain top talent. Ultimately, by nurturing a skilled and safety-conscious workforce, companies are laying the foundation for a resilient future, marked by innovation, efficiency, and continued growth.
Our teams remain dedicated to supporting you through the highs and lows and our commitment to industry excellence and your success is unwavering.
To view this article in PDF format, please click on this link. Written by Sally our Accounts and Training Executive.
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