New housing and future construction skills: report

Independent Short Life Working Group report considering new and future housing construction skills and adapting and modernising for growth.

Chapter 7: Supportive Public Sector Policies

The introduction of new building regulations, planning policies and public procurement requirements can be an enabling tool and catalyst to support technical, environmental and process changes. However, there has been a lack of skills impact analysis for the introduction of such changes.

One example is in relation to BIM (building information modelling) which was incorporated as a requirement (BIM level 2) for public sector projects valued at over £2 million [30]. Whilst the objective and vision for such an approach is to be welcomed, due to the short notice between announcement and policy start period the sector did not have sufficient numbers of staff trained and ready. This led to significant turnover (churn) of staff between companies due to the skills supply shortfall as some companies offered increasing higher salaries to attract BIM qualified staff. Initially due to lack of qualified and quality training provision in Scotland staff had to travel outside of Scotland for upskilling. Research also identified lack of penetration of BIM adoption into supply chains [31]. If FE, HE and industry training providers had received funding support for BIM development training courses, BIM software upgrades and facilities in timely advance of the policy coming into effect this may have better supported the BIM skills transition for the sector (see also Chapter 9). A recent report [32] also identified varying degrees of skills and understanding by industry of what is involved for BIM Level 2 related competency. At present there are more BIM training providers in Scotland and Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) and CSIC have been supportive in helping the development of the sector transition.

If a Skills Impact Analysis (SIA) had been undertaken during the early phase of the policy development this may have assisted identifying where the gaps in provision, understanding, skills and facilities were and pro-actively channelled skills investment and training at an earlier stage. Given the extensive range of new technologies and changes ahead of the sector and climate change plan (CCP) ambitions [28] over the coming decades it is recommended that Skills Impact Analysis (SIA) should be included as part of the future government consultations for the sector. This could include proposed major changes in building regulations and policies affecting the construction and house building sectors.

Public sector procurement can play an integral role in enabling support towards apprenticeships and skills investment by companies via local community benefits. The SLWG discussed the positive aspects of how this has helped but also in how further developments may be more effective. The SLWG recommended that the public sector should continue to use procurement as a catalyst to encourage skills training, inclusive growth and investment by companies and their sub-contractors.

An important aspect to consider is completion rates of such skills investment aligned to procurement for projects. This is not quite as straight forward particularly if the project being procured has a shorter period than the apprenticeship training period. In which case it is difficult to evidence the full effectiveness and outcomes of delivered skills successes through contracts other than having statistics of apprenticeship starts.

It may be useful in future for public sector procurement contracts to include evidence by bidders of not only planned apprenticeship starts but also previous track record in skills completions and upskilling. This latter aspect may have to be limited to medium and large companies so as not to exclude or hinder small, micro and new start-up companies from tendering.


R.7.1 Proposals for future policies and regulations by government – should include a Skills Impact Analysis (SIA) – this would help sector readiness and training providers gear up.

R.7.2 Continue to use public sector procurement to encourage skills development.

R.7.3 Improved outcomes and deliveries through community benefits linkages to skills training and employment.



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