Construction industry call for direct employment welcomed by JIB

Influential business leaders from across the construction sector have called for direct employment to be implemented across the supply chain, in order to avoid the significant skills shortages facing the industry.

The ‘Future Skills Report’, published by the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), sets out actions to ensure that the sector has the skills needed to deliver future construction and infrastructure requirements. Its number one recommendation asks clients to: “agree to a code of employment where those who contribute to a project are directly employed, thereby ensuring that it is in the employer’s best interest to train their staff and benefit from their improved productivity.”

To drive the implementation of this, the CLC now plans to influence procurement strategy and policy to encourage reduced numbers of workers not in direct employment.

In the report, clients and Government are asked to change both public and private procurement requirements to demand direct employment and measure the number of contracts and tender actions which contain scoring criteria to incentivise direct employment, at head contract and throughout the supply chain.

The JIB, which has the promotion of direct-employment as the cornerstone of its work, has long-campaigned for such measures and welcomed the CLC’s report and recommendations:

“We applaud the recommendations supporting a directly employed workforce, which is at core of the JIB’s membership model values,” said Roger Horne, JIB head of membership. “This is great news for JIB members and should pave the way for more new business opportunities. We look forward to supporting the CLC in its work to implement this strategy.”

Andrew Eldred, director and employment and skills at ECA, stated: “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it”. For the past 40 years successive Governments and the UK construction industry have neglected this lesson and forgotten why the direct employment contract emerged in the first place: to facilitate long-term collaboration, productivity and innovation in the workplace. This declaration of intent by the CLC is a welcome start, but implementation arrangements must be carefully planned, credible and wholehearted. ECA, Unite and the JIB are ideally placed to contribute to the development of these arrangements.”

Ian Woodland, national officer for Unite the Union, added: “The call for direct employment is long overdue. Direct employment improves productivity, reduces accidents and helps to ensure apprenticeship training. A classic win, win situation. This report needs to be the beginning of tackling the hire and fire culture which currently taints and distorts our industry.”

The report thanked the JIB and ECA as contributors to the report and also recognised the work of The Electrotechnical Skills Partnership (TESP) and its research activities.

In further support of direct employment, over the last 12 months the JIB has been driving for the effective implementation of Construction Charters across a number of local authorities. Over 55 authorities across the UK have now signed up to these charters, which pledge better conditions for construction workers. The JIB is developing a template procurement process which can be used by the councils and local authorities in question, to deliver the objectives of the charters.

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