In an encouraging milestone for the construction industry in Scotland, an interim assessment of the Scottish Construction Leadership Forum’s (CLF) long-term Recovery Plan for the sector is showing steady and consistently-improving progress.
The Forum, a collaboration between Construction Scotland, industry partners, the Scottish Government and other industry stakeholders was established in March 2019 to develop and implement an Action Plan of improvement initiatives aligned with Government policies and Construction Scotland’s Industry Strategy.
When the magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic became clear last year, the Forum’s energies were diverted initially to restarting the sector after the first shutdown and then to developing an ambitious wider recovery plan with over 80 specific actions.
That plan was approved in October last year and set out a pathway not only to recovery, but also to a longer-term transformation which the Forum believed was required to build a stronger, fairer and greener economic future.
Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning and Chair of the Construction Leadership Forum, said: “This Recovery Plan has set an ambitious agenda for the sector and I am pleased with the progress so far. There is still much to do to move us from recovery into the transformation which is vital for this sector. The Plan recognises the central role of construction in meeting net zero targets and its ability to create jobs right across Scotland.
“Although the formation of the current Construction Leadership Forum arose from the worst of circumstances it is delivering the best of outcomes. The forum must continue driving forward this important work to build the fairer, more sustainable, innovative and diverse industry we all want to see.
“Creating and delivering such an ambitious plan has only been possible due to the spirit of collaboration across the sector. The collective has endeavoured to understand the challenges not only brought about by COVID-19 but also those underpinning the sector’s longer-term resilience, and everyone involved has put in countless hours through a high level of commitment.”
Peter Reekie, chief executive of the Scottish Futures Trust and chair of the Executive Group of the CLF, said: “The Forum committed to taking a long-term view of building a productive, profitable, low-carbon and socially responsible construction industry, but it was also crucially aware that immediate action was needed to alleviate the most severe effects of the pandemic.
“In response to this, the Recovery Plan built on immediate, short-term, medium-term and long-term aims, focused on five areas: Pipeline and Commercial; Skills and Workforce; Transformation; Supply Chain Resilience and Capability; and Industry Data and Insight.
“An update on progress of the delivery of the immediate and short-term goals has been published on the CLF website. It shows that twenty immediate and short-term actions have been completed. Progress has been made in a number of key areas such as support for apprentices, issue of new safe operating guidance, a digital upskilling strategy, a value of consultancy approach, construction quality improvement and developing a data strategy to better inform key decision making.
“This has not been without its challenges and there is still a long way to go, however a significant amount of activity is due to be completed this year, and particularly in the next quarter.”
Emma Dickson, Construction Scotland Industry Leadership Group and Co-Chair of the Skills and Workforce Sub-group said: “The co-operation and support across industry and government has been crucial in driving forward the actions in this ambitious recovery plan. We are especially proud of work done to support redundant employees in accessing new opportunities in the sector. It demonstrates excellent collaboration across the sector and was a key action in the recovery plan.”
Mr Reekie pointed out that, while the immediate action results were satisfactory, the short-term results were more mixed. This reflected the fact that although much time and effort has been devoted to the task, there needed to be realism about what could be achieved while operating under the ongoing Covid restrictions.
The Forum also recognises that the longer-term commitments are being progressed in a highly uncertain environment where many industry participants, at all levels, have suffered financial losses and are concerned about the short-term future.
However, the work being done as part of the recovery plan will underpin a much-welcomed Construction Accord which will help create a responsible industry which offers quality jobs and fair work to a highly skilled and diverse workforce and a quality and life-time value product to its customers.