Sajid Javid takes over as business secretary from Vince Cable who was perhaps the most high-profile casualty in the Liberal Democrat bloodbath.
As might be expected from a former banker and the son of a hardworking bus driver and Pakistani immigrant, Javid appears to be a strong believer in deregulation and the free market in addition to having a get-on-your-bike approach to employment and advancement. Famously, he hung a picture of Margaret Thatcher in his office when he took on his first government post as culture minister in 2010.
The most pressing item on Javid’s to do list, at least from his position overseeing the construction industry, will be monitoring and ensuring that all of the construction supply chain is BIM level 2 compliant by 2016. A longer term objective, should Javid remain in post, will be BIM level 3 compliance by 2025.
With less than a year to go until the 2016 date by which the government has mandated BIM level 2 for construction companies tendering for public work, Javid will want to see a wider selection of main contractors certified. At the time of writing, Interserve was the first and only main contractor to be declared BIM 2 ready.
The second, not unrelated, item on his to do list will be tackling the skills gap in the construction and engineering sector. Speaking on the Today programme, 24 hours after taking office, Javid said: “We want to create 2 million more jobs in the next five years and 3 million more apprenticeships.”
A large plank of Tory policy and welfare reform will be about encouraging people out of unemployment and back into work, all of which could potentially act in the construction industry’s favour. “[Young people] will have to take up apprenticeships and community work if they want to keep receiving [benefits],” Javid told the Today programme.
Another key issue, will be how Javid deals with labour relations against a background of public sector cuts.
“We’ve already make it clear, in terms of strike laws, that there will be will significant changes… it will be a priority of ours,” he told the BBC. He added that there would need to be a minimum 50% turnout in strike ballots and a strike affecting essential public services would need the backing of 40% of eligible union members under government plans.
“We will also ban the use of agency staff when strike action takes place and we’ll go in to that in more detail in the Queen’s speech,” he said.
Other questions include whether he will continue to focus on three policies promoted by his predecessor Cable, namely: abuses of zero-hour contracts, having an individual strategy for each of the UK’s key industries and diversity in the boardroom.
The top three infrastructure items in Javid’s in-tray:
- Ensure construction industry is BIM level 2 compliant
- Reduce the skills gap
- Manage labour relations fairly