Call for Greater Engagement at First UCEM Built Environment Skills Summit

Posted on: 17 October, 2017

Industry leaders urged organisations within the Built Environment sector to collaborate to solve the skills gap at the first UCEM Built Environment Skills Summit yesterday.

Key representatives from organisations such as RICS, CIOB, BRE, the Cabinet Office and CITB met at UCEM’s office in Reading for a series of presentations and lively discussions concerning how to match the supply of skills in the Built Environment to the sector’s growing demands.

All guests were unanimous in the view that more needs to be done to urgently address the growing skills gap and that the inaugural Summit was an important first step in starting to develop solutions to this important issue. The group concluded that more organisations within the Built Environment need to join the debate and that the sector should present a more unified and coherent voice to the UK’s decision-makers.

UCEM Principal, Ashley Wheaton, said: “I think the Summit was incredibly productive. We found consensus across the room that there is a problem and everyone was determined to address the issue and offer solutions.

“This is just the beginning and we will look to follow this up with a second event in the near future with hopefully an even greater representation across all aspects of Built Environment industries. My message to everyone who came today is: please don’t disengage from this issue, we need your ongoing support!”

CIOB Managing Director, Terry Watts, said: “It was great to be part of building momentum. However, momentum needs to be maintained and developed so I hope this is just the start of developing appropriate solutions.”

RICS President, Amanda Clack, said: “I didn’t know what to expect today but I have been pleasantly surprised. The more we can share information, the more likely we can offer a way forward.”

Among the issues identified was the need to better attract people of all ages and backgrounds into the industry, in light of the existing, ageing workforce, as well as a dearth of true diversity and inclusivity in the sector. In addition to this, common themes included: the challenges the sector faces in retaining talent; the need to more clearly demonstrate professional competence and increase quality; the fragmentation of the sector with little collaboration between organisations; and equipping the workforce with the skills for both today and tomorrow in order to cope in a rapidly changing world.

The group will look to develop a draft paper on the issues with the aim of raising awareness of the potential solutions, such that a more cogent working relationship with government can be developed, as well as increasing the number of participants from the sector at the next follow-up meeting.