Construction industry aims to tackle skills shortages with Fairness, Inclusion & Respect

Construction industry aims to tackle skills shortages with Fairness, Inclusion & Respect

Leading contractors and clients have signed up to the construction industry’s Commitment on FIR, as a key part of its strategy to modernise its image and improve perceptions of the sector.

The Fairness, Inclusion & Respect (FIR) programme seeks to help address the skills shortage in the sector. Delivered by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) and the Supply Chain Sustainability School with funding and support from the CITB, the FIR programme will bring together organisations from right across the built environment sector.

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. Chief Executive of CECA, Alasdair Reisner said: “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.”

With 34 organisations already signed up, the FIR Commitment: Better For Everyone has sector-wide support. The programme 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.

However, intended programme impacts are beginning to be seen as a result of organisations 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 business case for FIR is strong, both for the wider industry and for organisations making the commitment, concluded founding Director of the Supply Chain School, Ian Heptonstall: “To fix the disconnect between the multi-billion-pound promise of work in the pipeline and the emerging skills shortage, the industry must change, fast. Organisations that sign up to the FIR Commitment understand the urgency of the situation.”

The direct benefits achieved by working on FIR through the School have also been identified and calculated by GRAHAM Construction. Specific rewards include: £300m in new work won; a 15% increase in staff management skills, a 13% rise in employee engagement and a 5% jump in diversity of recruits; plus a 3% drop in staff turnover.

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