The Chartered Institute of Building has launched a call for evidence into skills, materials and new technology in the housing sector. The work forms part of a wider coalition – the National Housing Taskforce – which has been convened by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Housing and Planning.
The Taskforce, which has already met with new Housing Minister Gavin Barwell MP, is operating across 12 distinct areas of work to take a holistic view of how to tackle the housing crisis, covering everything from planning reform to housing associations, and construction skills to mortgage finance. Each work-stream is being led by a relevant organisation which will submit recommendations to the Taskforce later in the year.
The CIOB’s work-stream is charged with addressing the main issues in the construction labour market, including availability, productivity and diversity. Additionally, it will look at materials and new technology, primarily off-site manufacture and modern methods of construction (MMC), including how they link to skills. The call for evidence can be accessed here: https://policy.ciob.org/consultations/
David Hawkes, CIOB Policy Manager, said: “At its most basic level, what this work-stream boils down to is capacity. Studies have shown the housing sector needs 120,000 new employees just to meet the required annual level of homes the UK needs. At the same time, house builders say they cannot build more than 150,000 homes per year via conventional means.
“What this suggests to us is that something needs to fundamentally change if we are to properly address the housing crisis. We need more people working more productively and we have to work out how best to utilise and implement new technologies, materials and processes.”
Explaining how the work-stream will progress, Hawkes said: “The CIOB will be working closely with MPs and industry experts to analyse the responses we receive. We’ll then host a number of inquiry-style discussions to hone in on the most relevant evidence and submit our recommendations to the National Housing Taskforce by the end of the year.”
The CIOB’s call for evidence is inviting submissions from industry, government, education establishments, professionals and other interested stakeholders that shed light on addressing the skills gap that currently exists across the sector. Additionally, the CIOB is keen to hear of the opportunities for improving productivity and driving down costs through the use of construction techniques such as off-site manufacture. Of particular interest are successful initiatives both for skills and technology that are operating at scale, or could be scaled up.
Suggested areas that evidence might cover, though this is by no means exclusive, are as follows:
- What barriers are there to long-term training and skills development in the housing sector? What incentives can be used?
- What is the role for small and medium-sized house builders in addressing skills gaps or leading the way with new technology? Are there examples of any successful business models in smaller companies that have the capacity to be upscaled?
- What difference do technological innovations make to our needs for skills and materials?
- Are current government policies supporting investment in new technology for house building?
- What can the industry do to attract and train more people, and what can be done to improve labour productivity?
- What will be the effects of the vote to leave the EU on skills, materials and new technology?
Evidence needs to be submitted by 17:00 on 9 September 2016. Full details and guidelines on submission can be found here: https://policy.ciob.org/consultations/
The CIOB hopes to invite as many people and organisations as possible to give oral evidence during sessions later in the year. The final National Housing Taskforce report, incorporating recommendations from all twelve work-streams, is expected to be released by Spring 2017.