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Suppliers: we need help in health & safety, leadership and collaborative working

The UK infrastructure sector must strengthen its performance in health & safety, leadership and collaborative working according to the results of a major survey of the sector.

Over the last six months more than 500 representatives from companies in the UK infrastructure sector have been involved in a research project to identify what key characteristics and competences their businesses will need for the future.

The project has been led by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association and supported by NCE and 10 of the country’s largest contractors.

Representatives from customers, main contractors and supply chain were asked where they felt were priorities for the UK infrastructure supply chain to strengthen itself to meet the demands of growing output in the sector.

Of 30 potential priorities, respondents honed in on activities that looked after the industry’s workforce with safety in construction, safety leadership and safety  behaviour and culture occupying the top slots. More than 65% of respondents saw each as a top priority for the sector. Leadership and management scored 65% while collaborative working came in fifth at 63%. Other priorities for industry included training, technical competence, innovation, lean construction; and risk management.

The research outcomes will now be used as the foundations for Infrastructure 21 - a programme of free and low cost training that will be launched next month.

Bam Nutall chief executive Steve Fox was pleased to see safety recognised as the top priority.

“We all recognise that it is vital to look after the safety and wellbeing of everyone who works in our sector,” he said. “We must act with our customers and supply chain to ensure that outstanding health & safety performance becomes the norm.

“The findings of the Infrastructure 21 programme underline this importance, while setting out a clear picture of where improvement is needed. We welcome the opportunity to be part of this cross-industry initiative, helping to secure a safer future for everyone”

Costain managing director for infrastructure Darren James added that it was vital for tier one contractors to support the supply chain in upskilling in these key areas.

“For Costain to be successful it is essential that we are able to work with the best suppliers, who understand the changing needs of our industry and are fit for the future,” he noted. “We recognise that we must help our supply chain to meet this challenge, and believe that Infrastructure 21 offers the chance to help companies across the country to get easy access to top class support to achieve this goal.”

Infrastructure 21 began as a research project, sponsored by the UK Commission for Employment & Skills, to identify the key characteristics that would be required by supply chain companies operating in the UK infrastructure sector. The outcome will be an ongoing, free, training programme designed to upskill the supply chain such that the industry is ready and able to deliver the anticipated boom in spending.

  • Details of the programme will be launched at an executive briefing in June where six supply chain companies who are showing early leadership in six core competencies will also be recognised. For more details or to register your interest in attending go to http://www.nce.co.uk/awards/infrastructure-21/

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