NOW IS THE TIME FOR RECRUITERS TO HELP CREATE A MORE INCLUSIVE LABOUR MARKET

Now the UK’s lockdown exit plans have been set out and as the economy gradually starts to open again, many businesses will see this as a return towards normality. But in many ways, the world of work will look very different post-Covid. Alongside the changes the pandemic has forced on us, we now have a chance to create a better labour market – and one important way we can do this is by making it more inclusive and making sure companies provide opportunities for a more diverse range of people.

There has been a great deal of progress on diversity and inclusion in recent years. In the REC’s new Recruitment and recovery study, we found that almost two thirds (64%) of businesses believed they were doing well at reducing unconscious bias. But we all know that there is much more still to do. We’ve all seen the gender pay gap statistics and the studies showing how CVs with a white-sounding name are far more likely to get a response than those with a name from an ethnic minority – even when the content is identical.

Our Recruitment and recovery report also found some worrying signs of a lack of focus from employers. Just three in ten companies said that they were focusing more on increasing the diversity of their workforce, and 45% of SMEs admitted that increasing the diversity of their staff was not a priority. No wonder less than half (44%) of the British public thought that the process of recruitment was inclusive to people like them.

The recruitment process can be an incredibly important tool in improving inclusion in a business. Anonymising CVs, using diverse interview panels, offering flexible working options from the outset – all of these can be valuable steps to increasing the range of candidates who will apply for a role or improving the selection process. But while both businesses and the public say that these are important in principle, in practice they are rare.

This is where professional recruitment businesses can prove their worth. Many businesses have taken their eye off the ball on inclusion – understandably due to the pandemic – but it is up to their recruitment partners to remind them how important this issue is and the many ways that it can benefit both their bottom line and the people working for them. And we know this can work – two in three (63%) companies said that working with a recruitment agency had helped them increase the diversity of new hires.

For recruiters, this means helping clients to audit and evaluate their selection and hiring processes regularly, specifically with diversity and inclusion in mind, as well as advising them on whether they might need to bring in tools like unconscious bias training for hiring managers, anonymising CVs, and standardised selection criteria that can help judge which candidate is right for a role, no matter their background.

With so much change already having happened in the labour market and more on the horizon, now is the perfect time to change things for the better, and make the future of work a more inclusive one.page9image34586816page9image34594496page9image34591616page9image34590464

Self-employed worker numbers 13% down on pre-Covid level

Numbers of self-employed workers are slowly returning to the pre-Christmas level despite worries that many eastern Europeans would not return after the break.

According to the construction industry’s biggest payer of subcontractors Hudson Contract, the number of tradespeople on its books stood at 87% of pre-pandemic levels in January.

The figure was 90% before the festive break when most construction sites shut for a fortnight.

Ian Anfield, managing director, said: “We were concerned that Covid would prevent eastern Europeans getting back to Britain after Christmas.

“We also heard reports from some clients that some tradespeople were using the self-employment support scheme to take extra paid holiday at the Chancellor’s expense.

“While this is most certainly happening in some cases, on the whole the return to work has been at the same level as in previous years.”

But latest pay trends show earnings are running on average 13% down on January 2020 at an all-trade average of £838.

Freelance bricklayer, steel erectors and surfacing subbies have seen the highest year-on-year falls.

Key trades national average weekly pay
Jan-2020Jan-2021Change
BRICKLAYING£ 767£ 648-16%
CIVIL ENGINEERING£ 872£ 817-6%
DEMOLITION & WRECKING£ 962£ 785-18%
ELECTRICAL£ 1,300£ 965-26%
EQUIPMENT & OPERATOR HIRE£ 959£ 938-2%
GENERAL CONSTRUCTION£ 977£ 807-17%
INSULATION£ 933£ 884-5%
JOINERY£ 1,131£ 915-19%
MECHANICAL & ENGINEERING£ 1,229£ 1,075-13%
PLASTERING£ 801£ 695-13%
PLUMBING£ 1,322£ 938-29%
ROOFING£ 779£ 694-11%
SCAFFOLDING & LIFTING£ 878£ 705-20%
SHOP FITTING£ 1,166£ 1,073-8%
SPECIALIST TRADES£ 930£ 799-14%
STEEL & TIMBER FRAME ERECTION£ 731£ 797-9%
SURFACING CONTRACTORS£ 768£ 706-8%

Chancellor is being urged to abandon VAT changes which could cause a cash-flow crisis across construction.

Construction Leadership Council makes last minute plea to Rishi Sunak

Construction Leadership Council makes last minute plea to Rishi Sunak

The Construction Leadership Council is hoping for a last-minute reprieve ahead of the Spring Budget, warning it could snuff out the construction-led recovery.

More than 150,000 construction companies are facing a 20% drop in cash flow when planned VAT changes come into force at the start of March.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer will deliver his Budget statement in the House of Commons on 3 March.

The “domestic reverse charge” change means companies in the construction supply chain will no longer receive their 20% VAT payment when they submit bills.

The VAT cash will instead be paid direct to HMRC by the customer receiving the service who will reclaim it in the normal way.

In a letter to the Chancellor, chairman of the CLC, Andy Mitchell writes: “Our industry remains in extremely challenging times as we continue to adapt to ongoing Covid-19 rules, mitigate the impact of Brexit and prepare for the forthcoming implementation of rule changes on IR35 and the Construction Industry Scheme.

“It is also important to note that by continuing to operate the industry has suffered a serious financial impact as a result of project delays and costs incurred in adapting working practices.

“This has resulted in many contractual disputes which our monitoring suggests are currently growing and which will accelerate further still.

“We are currently quantifying the impact; however, it is reasonable to assume that without further financial support many companies will become insolvent.”

He adds: “The implementation of Reverse charge VAT in April will restrict cashflow in our industry, especially to the smallest firms, at an extremely critical financial period for many businesses.

“This policy risks reversing any recovery industry has made from Covid-19 and will limit the scope for protecting and creating jobs across the UK.”

HS2 Introducing Largest Project-Wide Digital Passport

HS2 is introducing the largest project-wide digital passport system for workers allowing it to keep tabs on skills and health and safety.

HS2 to implement UK's first ever project-wide health and safety passport

HS2 to implement UK’s first ever project-wide health and safety passport

It will be the first time in the UK that workforce data will be available to view across a major multi-site infrastructure project in one consolidated platform.

The new cloud-based central database will ensure only workers with the correct credentials and skills are permitted access to sites, as well as collect whole workforce data allowing HS2 to map competency and track health and safety assessments

Also where suppliers and operatives are working across multiple locations, the new system will be able to flag individual fatigue risks across the project.

HS2 chiefs hope the collection and synchronisation of data from local level to project-wide will help to ensure consistency of standards and performance.

The information collected can also be anonymised and provide a learning legacy for future major projects.

The workforce management software solution developed by Midlands-based Biosite will link biometric data directly to operative information and site access for real-time visibility and traceability.

Workers will be required to complete a central online pre-induction before undertaking a local site induction and provide biometric information to generate their global identification or digital ‘passport’.

The new digital health and safety passport system will be rolled out initially by all of HS2’s Main Works Civils Contractors to share vital health and safety information across contractors.

Emma Head, HS2’s Safety and Assurance Director said: “We aim to lead by innovation at HS2 and the new Health and Safety Passport System is a pioneering way for us to further our best practice approach to workforce health and safety management.

“We are pleased to be bringing workforce management for complex projects such as HS2 to the next level.”

The HS2 HSPS initiative is scheduled to go live in the spring.

Construction Sites to Stay Open in the latest Lockdown

Construction sites will continue to operate during the latest lockdown which will be in force until at least the middle of February.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed a third national lockdown on Monday night with people urged to work from home wherever possible.

But the government confirmed that “you can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home, including but not limited to people who work within critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing that require in-person attendance.”

Guidance added that construction ” is essential to keeping the country operating.”

Tradespeople can also work in other people’s homes and builders merchants and building products suppliers will be able to keep stores open.

Former construction minister Nadhim Zahawi is now in charge of the vaccine rollout and has been set the target of vaccinating 13.9m people in the four highest risk groups by the middle of February.

Super Sewer’s Longest Tunnel Drive Crosses Finishing Line

A joint venture of Ferrovial and Laing O’Rourke has achieved the milestone of completing the longest single tunnel drive on the Thames Tideway project.

Tunnelling milestone as four-fifths of drive now complete

Tunnelling milestone as four-fifths of drive now complete

TBM Ursula’s breakthrough now means that more than 19km of the Super Sewer has been completed, with work on the remaining 5.5km section due to begin very soon with the launch of TBM Selina, which will create the final and easternmost section of the super sewer.

As part of its 7.6km journey from Battersea to Bermondsey,  Ursula excavated over a million tonnes of spoil, all of which was removed from site using barges on the Thames – preventing more than 250,000 HGV trips.

Tim Newman, Tideway’s Project Geologist, said: “Completing the longest single drive on the Tideway project is a wonderful milestone, and our teams have made great progress through a challenging year.

“TBM Ursula has tunnelled at incredible depths, encountering a real mix of geology – through clay, sand, gravel and chalk.

“The expertise required for such a task is immense and allowed us to quickly and safely adapt the tools on the cutterhead as needed.”

Viv Jones, Project Director for the central section, said: “Ferrovial and Laing O’Rourke, the contractors on the central section, have done a fantastic job, and I thank the teams involved for their efforts to clean up London’s iconic river.”

Bidding starts in New Year for £4bn levelling up fund

Councils will be able to bid for project funding early next year from the Government’s new levelling up fund announced in the spending review.

The Government has committed £4bn to a new cross-departmental Fund for England. This will invest in local infrastructure that has a visible impact on people and their communities and will support economic recovery.

It has committed to release £600m in 2021-22 and will publish a prospectus for the fund and launch the first round of competitions in the New Year

Funding will be available for a broad range of high-value local projects up to £20m, including bypasses and other local road schemes, bus lanes, railway station upgrades, regenerating eyesores, upgrading town centres and community infrastructure, and local arts and culture.

It will be open to all local areas in England and prioritise bids to drive growth and regeneration in places in need, those facing particular challenges, and areas that have received less government investment in recent years.

The new levelling up funding came as the Chancellor committed to £100bn of capital spending next year and announced plans to set up an Infrastructure Bank to catalyse private investment in infrastructure projects across the UK.

The civil engineering sector is now gearing up for a busy time next year as all key market sectors start to rev up.

Chief executive of the Civil Engineering Contractors Association Alasdair Reisner said: “The vision set out by the Chancellor today is one in which investment in infrastructure is a key priority for delivering growth and creating jobs across all parts of the country.

“The creation of a National Infrastructure Bank, to be based in the north of England, will enable the strategic investment businesses and communities require.

“We are particularly pleased to see the creation of a specific ‘Levelling Up’ fund, which will enable local communities to bid for projects based on their own expertise and needs.

“The Government’s planned £100bn of capital spending next year will ensure the UK’s economic recovery from the historic impact of COVID-19 will be as swift as possible, creating jobs and growth, to the benefit of businesses and communities in all parts of the UK.”

Steve Beechey, Public Sector Director, Wates Group, said:  “As a national business with a significant footprint in the north, we are also buoyed by the renewed focus on levelling up.

“The commitment to locate important new public bodies, like the new UK infrastructure bank, in the north, combined with the levelling up fund of £4bn should provide a much-needed boost for future investment, both public and private sector, in areas which have, at times, been overlooked in the past.”

Article Courtesy of ‘Construction Enquirer’

Thames Water Announce £4bn AMP7 Partners

Thames Water has agreed the final and biggest framework for design and build construction partners on its AMP7 programme.

The clean and wastewater projects will include schemes across London and the Thames Valley.

The frameworks are extendable into AMP8 and could see Thames award up to £4bn of investment to undertake work on all types of above and below ground assets.

Following the awards of frameworks in two lots earlier this year, five further lots of successful contractors have been announced.

Successful AMP7 partners


Lot 3 – Non-Infrastructure – London (£600m-£700m)

  • Galliford Try and MWH Treatment

Lot 4 – Non-Infrastructure – Thames Valley (£350m-£450m)

  • Interserve and Mott Macdonald Bentley

Lot 5 – Infrastructure – London – North (£350m-£400m)

  • J Murphy and Barhale

Lot 6 – Infrastructure –  London – South (£325m-£375m)

  • Morrison Utility Service and Galliford Try

Lot 7 – Infrastructure –  Thames Valley (£175m-£225m)

  • Morrison Utility Service and Mott Macdonald Bentley

John Bentley, Thames Water’s capital delivery director, said: “We have now appointed our partners to plug the final piece of the jigsaw for our AMP7 delivery.

“We have ambitious plans and are looking forward to working together to outperform expectations.”

The latest geographical frameworks follow on from lots announced in May and will run parallel to the Thames-wide frameworks.

Last year, Thames Water announced its decision to move away from an alliancing approach and implement an “intelligent client” operating model across its capital delivery function during AMP7.

This model will see the company bring more activities in-house in the key areas of asset management, programme management, project management, technical assurance and commercial management.

Work will be delivered through a series of delivery “runways” covering all of the capital programme and these latest frameworks will operate on Runway 2, the main delivery route.

To help deliver this ambition Atkins has been named Strategic Delivery Partner.

It will deliver asset management, project management and technical assurance services to support the utility’s transition, while Mace has secured a role as the Programme Management Office delivery partner.

This will see Mace assist Thames Water with programme management, quality assurance, business systems and processes and governance and risk.

Phil Cull, Southern Region Director at winner Barhale said: “We are immensely proud of our longstanding association and the confidence Thames Water continues to show in Barhale.

“We have worked with Thames since 1989 and have supported each AMP period. That depth of experience gives us real understanding of the challenges facing a network which serves the most densely populated part of the country.”

AMP7 Thames-wide Capital Programmes

(Previously announced in May)


Lot 1 – Non-infrastructure: worth £180m

  • Costain, MWH Treatment, Mott MacDonald Bentley, Kier Infrastructure, Glan Agua, Galliford Try, Barhale and Bridges Electrical

All works above ground such as the refurbishment, replacement and new potable water and wastewater treatment assets, including reservoirs.

Lot 2 – Infrastructure: worth £170m

  • Kier Infrastructure, Morrison Utility Service, Galliford Try, J Browne Cons, Barhale and Clancy Docwra

All underground works from rehabilitation, replacement and new sewers and pumping assets to potable water pipelines, aqueducts and tunnels.

London Super Sewer western tunnel drive completes

The main tunnel drive for the first major section of the Thames Tideway sewer has been completed.

TBM Rachel will now be recovered from the Acton storm tank site

TBM Rachel will now be recovered from the Acton storm tank site

Giant tunnel boring machine Rachel has completed its gentle uphill 7km drive breaking into the shaft at Tideway’s site in Acton.

Three-way joint venture contractors, BAM Nuttall, Morgan Sindall and Balfour Beatty, lowered TBM Rachel 35m into the ground to begin tunnelling in May 2019 from Carnwarth Road in Fulham.

Working a total of nearly 1,100 shifts, around 200 staff have worked on the western section of the tunnel, with Tideway’s use of the river to remove 725,000 tonnes of spoil and bring in concrete segments keeping around 25,000 lorries off the road.

Neil Binns, Senior Project Manager, said: “Having broken through at Acton Storm Tanks, it’s easy to forget the time and effort that goes into making all this possible.

“From designing and manufacturing the TBM, to providing logistics support for its delivery by river, to the above-ground operation, as well as the skill of the tunnelling team – this is a fantastic achievement and a wonderful example of the teamwork required to clean up the River Thames.”

TBM Rachel was named after Rachel Parsons, who was the founding president of the Women’s Engineering Society and a former Fulham resident.

Article Courtesy of ‘Construction Enquirer’