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Specialist surveyor fails to spot asbestos

April 18th, 2018 No comments

A specialist asbestos company has been fined after failing to detect asbestos at a demolition site.

Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how EAS Asbestos Limited were commissioned to conduct refurbishment and demolition surveys by Mercer Brother Limited who were demolishing garages for Hyndburn Homes.

EAS Asbestos stated in their surveys that asbestos was only present in the cement roof sheets, there were no areas that could not be accessed, and that there was no asbestos insulation board present in the garages.

On Wednesday 1 February 2017, the demolition of the garages went ahead but work was immediately stopped when suspect material was found.

Another surveying company was brought in and confirmed the presence of large amounts of asbestos insulation board in the demolition rubble.

An HSE investigation found that the survey carried out by EAS Asbestos Limited was incorrect and misleading.

EAS Asbestos Limited of Sutton in Ashfield, pleaded guilty to breaching safety regulations and was fined £6,700 and ordered to pay costs of £1,000 and a victim surcharge of £170.

Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Jacqueline Western said “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards”.

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Carillion collapse hits 2018 commercial property lending

April 17th, 2018 No comments

The collapse of Carillion is being blamed for a unexpected 4% fall in lending to the commercial property sector in January to £4.1bn.

Lendy, one of Europe’s leading peer- to-peer secured property lending platforms, said construction would typically sees an increase in lending and investment in-between December and January as new commercial building projects began for the New Year rather than this year’s fall.

It blamed the collapse of Carillion for spreading nervousness among many mainstream lenders to property and construction.

It said there was a particular concern about whether smaller construction firms, whose main client was Carillion, would be able to stay in business.

Some traditional lenders have also seen their loan books severely affected by Carillion’s collapse, with Lloyds commercial banking writing off £108m of loans to the failed group.

Santander tripled its impairment costs in 2017 to £203m, citing bad loans made to Carillion.

Liam Brooke, co-founder of Lendy, said: “The unexpected fall in lending highlights just how big an impact Carillion has had on the commercial property industry.”

“Lenders who have had to deal with heavy losses following Carillion’s collapse may think twice before giving loans for some future commercial real estate projects.”

“However, the fundamentals of the construction sector remain strong, and the decline in lending from traditional sources, creates opportunities for non-traditional lenders to enter the marketplace.”

“There are still numerous opportunities for lenders, both traditional and non-traditional to get involved in good, financially sound construction projects.”

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TSA Members welcome SmartWater’s co-ordinated response to equipment theft

April 16th, 2018 No comments

A new alliance between The Survey Association (TSA) and SmartWater is leading to detailed analysis and police follow-up on every incident of equipment theft.

A three-year agreement between TSA and SmartWater, sponsored by the leading manufacturers, is the first, co-ordinated response to thieves that persistently target surveyors.

As a direct result of the TSA initiative, SmartWater operatives are sharing incident information with the police and discussing the impact of theft on survey companies with crime prevention officers.

Dave Bennett, Business Manager at Topcon GB & Ireland, commented: ‘’The biggest impact theft has on surveyors is loss of working time and the additional cost of replacing equipment.’’

‘’Collating data around stolen equipment will support affected engineers, as well as elevate the issue within the industry, which is why we back TSA’s initiative with SmartWater,’’ he added.

Incidences of equipment theft routinely halt work schedules, raise concerns about personal safety and security and incur additional costs in replacement and insurance premiums for survey companies.

John Fraser, President, UK & Benelux Hexagon Geosystems said, “Theft in the UK of survey equipment is rife, and Leica Geosystems is working hard on many fronts to provide solutions and support to the industry, so we actively support the TSA initiative of the Smart Water database.’’

Theft data submitted to SmartWater’s Intelligence Portal puts the estimated cost of stolen equipment to TSA Member companies from September 2017 – February 2018 at £1.8 million, an average of £300,000 per month.

Ian Pennington, Geospatial Strategic Key Account Manager at Trimble said, “Theft of survey equipment has become a huge problem for our profession causing tremendous distress to the surveyors involved and significant financial loss to businesses.’’

‘’We fully support this important initiative by TSA to assist their members on crime prevention and equipment recovery measures,’’ he added.

Information submitted through the Intelligence Portal is also used to compile monthly reports for TSA Members, identify crime hotspots, emerging crime trends and possible links to current investigations.

An additional risk rating briefing for Members is issued each quarter, with advice for crime prevention to those likely to be a target.

For further details and to submit information on theft of survey equipment, email TSA office@tsa-uk.org.uk

Non-TSA Members can also report their thefts through the Intelligence Portal to ensure that the whole picture is captured, though only TSA Members will receive SmartWater’s monthly reports and briefings. For more information on TSA www.tsa-uk.org.uk/

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LEADING TRAINING PROVIDER SUPPORTS CALLS FOR APPRENTICESHIP LEVY CHANGES AS NUMBERS DROP AGAIN

April 10th, 2018 No comments

A leading utilities and construction training provider has added its voice to calls for change in the Apprenticeship Levy.

As latest figures showed a 25 per cent slump in new apprentices, Chris Wood, CEO of Develop Training, said: “The government should take action and make structural changes to the Levy.”

Develop Training, whose customers include some of the biggest names in construction and household name utility companies, has called for three adaptations to the scheme.

  • Make the Levy more flexible by extending the time allowed to use funds beyond the current two years
  • Widen apprenticeship choice
  • Unshackle the de facto value cap on apprenticeships, a move which would help training firms to deliver more schemes

Mr Wood added that employers also needed to get to grips with the scheme: “There are issues with how the Levy works, but it could be argued that a major cause of the problem remains ignorance of the Levy and its implications.”

He said a cut in the rate of the Levy, which some have called for, was highly unlikely as it could be politically suicidal and fail to address underlying skills shortages. Conversely, raising the rate, in an attempt to put more pressure on employers to make use of it may negatively impact the important work performed by other separately levy-funded bodies such as the CITB and ECITB.

More flexibility in the scheme, allowing Levy funding to pay for different kinds of training, might help, he said, welcoming news that more firms were implementing higher level apprenticeships.

This month (April) marks the first anniversary of the Levy, which requires larger employers to invest in apprenticeships or forfeit their contribution to the scheme. However, preliminary government figures released at the end of March showed a 25 per cent drop in the number of people starting apprenticeships in the first two quarters of 2017/18. This led to employer organisations, including the Engineering Employers Federation and the CBI, to renew calls for an overhaul.

The government pointed out that the latest figures are preliminary, and also welcomed the rise in higher level training being provided under the Levy.

www.developtraining.co.uk

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APPRENTICESHIP SPECIALIST JOINS DTL

March 27th, 2018 No comments

APPRENTICESHIP SPECIALIST JOINS DTL

A learning and development professional with specialist experience of the Apprenticeship Levy has joined Develop Training Ltd (DTL) at their Derby HQ.

For the past six years, Kate Whittaker has worked for private sector training providers in the field of apprenticeships, most latterly in a customer service role dealing with the implications of the Apprenticeship Levy. This followed 15 years with the Department for Work and Pensions where Kate was involved with the Welfare to Work programme.

Now, as a Business Development Manager at DTL, Kate is looking forward to working with clients such as BT, Affinity Water and Northern Gas Networks in an important account management role.

Kate said: “I was attracted to DTL by the company culture; everyone seems to feel valued. I am looking forward to working with a range of clients not only to ensure that their training needs are met but also to provide support and advice around the best use of the Apprenticeship Levy.”

Originally from Derby, Kate now lives near Belper with her fiancé and three-year-old daughter.

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Carillion boss offered senior staff bonuses to stop exodus

March 26th, 2018 No comments

Carillion handed senior staff special bonuses to stop an exodus after the firm issued the first bombshell profit warning.

Retention bonuses for senior managers below director level, salary increases for others, and a fee of £750 000 a year for the interim CEO, higher than his predecessor’s salary, were all agreed by the remuneration  committee.

MPs investigating Carillion’s collapse published fresh evidence on Monday showing how Carillion sought to boost and protect the rewards for its top executives as its finances deteriorated.

Acting CEO Keith Cochcrane wrote to selected senior staff:  “As you know, you are part of the team supporting the various projects we have underway at the moment that are critical to our success in 2017 and the business plan period up to 2019.

“We have a particularly challenging period to get through and your contribution is essential. With that in mind, I would like to invite you to participate in a retention bonus that will allow us to be assured of your services until at least the end of June 2018 and reward you for your contribution between now and then.

“These arrangements relate to a very limited group of people and should therefore not be discussed with anyone other than me.”

Fresh evidence also reveals that shareholders, including BlackRock, sought to limit the level of bonuses paid to board directors in 2016.

An attempt by Carillion’s board to increase the maximum bonus level to 150%  – although they promised not to use the maximum possible amount – was met with resistance, forcing the company to back down to 100% of salary maximum bonus pay-out.

MPs also criticised bosses’ contracts, which make it difficult to claw back their bonuses for any wrongdoing.

The joint committee said that the latest papers seemed to reinforce, the opinion of Amra Balic, Head of Stewardship at BlackRock, that Carillion’s board was more concerned with “how to remunerate executives rather than what was going on with the business”

Frank Field MP, Chair of the Pensions Committee, said: “It’s greed on stilts, pure and simple.”

Rachel Reeves, chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Select Committee, said: “These RemCo papers are further evidence that when the walls were falling down around them, Carillion bosses were focussed on their own pay packets rather than their obligation to address the company’s deteriorating balance sheets.

“While these directors could still walk off with bonuses intact, workers were left fearing for their jobs and suppliers faced ruin. Carillion had a notorious reputation for late payments to suppliers.

“But while suppliers were waiting up to 120 days to be paid, Carillion directors were doing their upmost to ensure there was no impediment to their receipt of fat pay and bonuses. Finally, when even the Carillion RemCo considered asking for directors to return their bonuses, the system and culture was so dysfunctional, and the terms and clawback provisions so weak, that even this meek step was ruled out”.

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Government gives go ahead for Geospatial Apprenticeships

March 20th, 2018 Comments off

The Secretary of State for Education, Damien Hinds, has given final approval for a Geospatial Technician Apprenticeship by approving the funding band, meaning that this is now ready for delivery.

The Institute for Apprenticeships has also recommended a final funding band to the Secretary of State for the Geospatial Mapping and Science Degree Apprenticeship and this will also be ready for delivery very shortly.

The Survey Association (TSA) funded the apprenticeship development work, assisted and guided by Apprenticeship Consultant, Christina Hirst.

TSA Vice President Nick Hampson commented: ‘’TSA has always been committed to encouraging more young people into the survey profession and we are delighted that our funding has helped to make Geospatial Apprenticeships a reality. TSA Member Companies made an important contribution to the Steering Group.’’

‘’Since 2001, over 400 students have graduated from the TSA Course in Surveying at the Survey School and the Geospatial Apprenticeships are the next logical step –  combining both funding and a recognised qualification.’’

Both apprenticeships were approved in September 2017 by the Institute for Apprenticeships and the employers who developed these have been awaiting these funding band approvals before delivery can start – now agreed at £9,000 for the Geospatial Technician Apprenticeship and £27,000 for the Geospatial Mapping and Science Degree Apprenticeship (the latter subject to final sign off from the DfE).

The approval of these apprenticeships means that geospatial employers can use their Apprenticeship Levy payments or Government’s apprenticeship funding to pay for the development of new talent for their businesses.

Antony Jenkins, Chair of the Institute for Apprenticeships said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to approve these standards. High quality apprenticeship standards like this help learners and employers reach their potential.

“More and more businesses of all sizes are realising the benefits that high quality apprenticeships can offer. The Institute is putting employers in control of developing the standards they need, giving learners a basis for lasting employment and overcoming national skills gaps.”

The geospatial apprenticeships have been developed by a group of 19 employers*, led by Skanska and supported by the two relevant professional bodies, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (ICES). The apprenticeship development was also supported by Class of Your Own.

Mark Lawton of Skanska, Chair of the Trailblazer Group said: “It was truly inspiring to see professional bodies, trade bodies and different sectors of industry collaborate together under the project management of Christina Hirst. The future geospatial educational requirements for the apprenticeship have been tailored by the Trailblazer Group, and I feel this is a huge educational step for our geospatial future talent.”

The Geospatial Technician apprenticeship will provide the knowledge, skills and behaviours for successful apprentices to apply to become Associate members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors or of the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors and successful apprentices from the Geospatial Mapping and Science Degree Apprenticeship can apply to become Members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors or the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors.

A number of Colleges and Universities are gearing up to provide these Apprenticeships and employers interested in supporting apprentices can find more information and the Trailblazer contact for these Apprenticeships by visiting

https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/apprenticeship-standards/geospatial-survey-technician/

for the Geospatial Technician Apprenticeship and by visiting

https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/apprenticeship-standards/geospatial-mapping-and-science-degree/

for the Geospatial Mapping and Science Apprenticeship.

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Average salaries for construction managers top £80,000

March 15th, 2018 Comments off

The average salary in construction management has hit £81,609 according to the latest pay survey of UK property professionals by RICS.

And that is topped-up by an average annual bonus of £22,252.

Construction management was one of the best paid professions in the survey which covered 42 disciplines.

Across all property professions base salaries grew on average by 12% to £58,633.

Quantity surveyors earned an average of £56,212 with an annual bonus of £5,754.

RICS qualified professionals are earning 21% more than their counterparts and 14.2% of those who received a pay rise in the last year did so through gaining professional qualifications.

Barry Cullen, RICS Diversity & Inclusion Director said: “The latest results from this survey show the built environment continues to be an attractive sector to work in with professionals’ pay hitting highs not seen since the financial crisis.

“As headcount is once again expected to increase in 2018, more employers are placing greater focus on attracting and retaining talent, with attractive pay and benefit packages.

“However, organisations must embrace an offering beyond an attractive salary and benefits package if we are going to truly diversify the profession and meets the needs of our future.

“In 2018, the gender pay gap still remains evident and whilst it is significantly less for those under 26, more still needs to be done.”

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JCB creates 600 jobs to meet boom in global demand

March 9th, 2018 Comments off

UK plant giant JCB is hiring 600 production line staff over the next three months due to “unprecedented” global demand for its machines.

In addition to these shop floor jobs, JCB said it also had vacancies for more than 100 permanent employees in engineering and other staff professions at its World Headquarters in Rocester and sites across the UK.

The firm, which already employs 6,000 people in the UK, said it now had a very healthy order book and is taking on over 200 operatives immediately with a further 400 staff required within 12 weeks.

Worldwide growth in construction has brought record demand for many of the product lines manufactured at its Derbyshire plant at Foston, as well as its Staffordshire factories at Rocester, Cheadle and Rugeley.

JCB chief operating officer, Mark Turner said: “This is great news for the local economy and great news for anyone seeking to work with a globally successful business.

“We know the cities of Stoke-on-Trent, Derby and surrounding towns have people with the skills we need, and in return they can expect excellent rewards.

“We urgently need fabrication welding skills along with paint sprayers, and general assemblers who will be given full training.

“The opportunities are initially for agency employees, however we see them as long-term opportunities – in fact, in the first three months of 2018 we have given permanent contracts to 200 agency staff. That means over the past four years we have handed permanent contracts to 850 agency employees.

“The future is very bright for JCB as global demand for our machines continues to grow, which means great prospects for people who want to work with us.”

The new roles pay a minimum of £10.40 per hour for Monday to Friday working hours, with a premium paid for shift-work opportunities.

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Green light for London Deutsche Bank HQ

March 1st, 2018 Comments off

Developer Landsec has gained revised planning consent for its 564,000 sq ft office scheme above Crossrail’s Liverpool Street Moorgate ticket office in the City.

The east facade will consist of a series of varying trusses that will span over 60m to each side of the station

The development at 21 Moorfields will be the new headquarters for Deutsche Bank, which agreed to take most of the space contigent on planning being granted.

Landsec had already committed to construct the substructure, which is due to complete in March 2019 and now expects that construction will continue straight through to practical completion, anticipated in November 2021.

Landsec says the new building will contain twice the quantity of steel in the Eiffel Tower

 

Colette O’Shea, Managing Director, London Portfolio, Landsec, said: “We welcome the resolution to grant planning permission and look forward to continuing to work in partnership with Deutsche Bank and the City of London Corporation to deliver this strategically important site.”

Chris Hayward, Planning and Transportation Committee Chairman, City of London Corporation, said: “With the Elizabeth line supporting the creation of an estimated 63,000 jobs in the City of London and Isle of Dogs, this office, located above a future station, fits in well with the City’s ambitions for growth.

“Deutsche Bank’s move demonstrates a high level of confidence in the City of London as a leader in financial and professional services. The City Corporation remains committed to supporting businesses with an additional 1.37m sq m of office space under construction that has the potential to accommodate 85,000 workers.”

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