Mark Farmer, author of the acclaimed ‘Modernise or Die’ construction industry report and Fusion Building Systems, a national offsite light gauge steel superstructure manufacturer, met this week to discuss ways of developing new training and career opportunities within the offsite construction sector.
Taking their lead from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)’s report published in April ‘Faster, Smarter, More Efficient: Building Skills for Offsite Construction’, Farmer and Fusion reviewed the issues currently affecting the UK construction industry and discussed the routes which could be opened up to develop a skilled offsite workforce for the future.
Their discussions centred around key findings of the CITB report which noted the low levels of industry awareness of the skills needed for offsite construction and how future, nationally-recognised training should deliver a diverse range of skill sets, covering everything from design and estimating, to logistics and onsite erection. The report also highlighted the need for industry-wide education in so- called ‘softer skills’, such as an awareness of behaviours and attitudes in the workplace – a significant shift change for the industry as it moves further into the 21st century.
Mike Fairey, Fusion Building Systems director, said: “There are already a handful of colleges and universities who are offering courses in modern methods of construction or MMC, but considering the startling findings of Mark’s report which looked at the desperate future of UK construction as a whole, there need to be many more. The industry needs to turn to offsite, but as the CITB report has shown, awareness, understanding and acceptance of MMC needs to catch up.
“Offsite manufacturing is nothing new to us, we’ve been operating for almost 20 years. We’re a growing business with an extremely capable, educated and eager workforce. We want to help drive change in the industry and are pleased to have Mark Farmer as an advocate and respected influencer, supporting our efforts towards this.”
In addition to Fusion board directors, the meeting was attended by two of the Company’s employees. Technical Quality Manager Drew O’Mahony has worked in offsite for 15 years – he has a genuine passion to train others and is keen to work with colleges and universities to help develop their MMC courses. Drew was joined at the meeting by Ash Aucott – an estimating manager who at just 21 wants to inspire other young people on the career opportunities in this growing sector.
Ash said: “At Fusion I’m lucky-enough to be able to learn and work alongside some of the most forward-thinking professionals in the industry. But I can see that education and opportunity in the construction sector needs to change. Following this week’s meeting I’m looking forward making new connections in both the construction and education sectors, to help bring about change and inspire others to consider an offsite future.”
Farmer and Fusion agreed a series of action points following the meeting from which it’s hoped new opportunities for offsite training and skills development will be established.
Mark concluded: “At such a critical period of change for our industry, it’s really encouraging to see Fusion, an established construction pre-manufacturing business fully embracing the modernisation agenda. Establishing the link between growing demand for innovative construction in home building, and the need for new skills that will underpin growth in new ways of building is the critical success factor for the industry’s transformation.
“Mike Fairey and his team at Fusion have recognised this and are taking a leadership position in understanding what they can do to connect with the FE sector and to turn into action many of the findings of the recent CITB report ‘Building Skills for Offsite Construction’.
“I would strongly urge others in the offsite sector to collaborate with them, CITB and the FE sector. By acting collectively, we can establish at scale the new training and skills our industry needs.”