Shaping the future
SELECT MD Alan Wilson on the new Scottish Construction Accord
From discussing the new Construction Accord with fellow trade bodies, it’s clear there is a degree of realism about its aims, but if the industry can see early evidence of its success I’m confident it will prove to be a real turning point.
As a realist myself, I know the Accord isn’t going to change things overnight, but I think it will reset the direction of travel and I’m keen to encourage my colleagues to look at it differently.
Obviously we’re facing a very difficult time with skills and material shortages, payment issues and budget cuts, so it’s going to take a bit of time. But if we can highlight some early wins to prove to people that it is working, it might change a few mindsets.
At the end of the day, we’re all human and we all want something out of it for ourselves. However, I’m convinced that seeing some early successes will help people recognise the benefits of the Accord and encourage them to participate.
Let’s listen to each other
Of course, one of the biggest challenges will be engaging the whole industry. It’s becoming increasingly evident that the industry can’t do things in isolation, and one of the Accord’s laudable objectives is to bring everyone around the table.
We’re obviously never going to agree on everything. Even in the Construction Industry Collective Voice (CICV), which has been very successful, there are still areas where we don’t have unanimity. But what’s important is that people understand and listen to each other.
We’re currently at the nadir of so many challenges, so this is an opportunity to reset the industry and think what we want, not now, but in two, three or five years’ time. And hopefully people will get engaged enough to make those changes.
There are some great professionals out there, really bright people who are committed to the industry and who can make a real difference, so it’s vital that we get them together and ensure everyone is moving in the same direction.
We can’t underestimate enough how much collaborating and understanding each other’s position does to help change minds, so now we need to have grown-up conversations about the way we work in construction.
Make change happen
A good example of current strife is cash retentions, where there are differing opinions among contractors, sub-contractors, architects and clients.
We need to engage on things like this because it’s all too easy to sit on the sidelines and snipe and say: “Nothing’s going to change.” Well, nothing will change unless you WANT to and actually get involved to make things happen.
There IS appetite for change within the industry, with a growing realisation that issues such as tackling skills shortages and meeting ambitious environmental targets will only work through cooperation.
I’m confident that those who choose to embrace such change will be rewarded and the Accord will emphasise the clear blue water between those trying to do the right thing and those who are stuck in the past.
Above all, I see procurement as the biggest issue that the Accord will seek to address. If we’re talking about the building you’ve got to start at the beginning, with the foundations.
How do we procure work? How do we pay for it? How do we engage with our clients and contractors? How do we build things that are going to have a long life and be easier to maintain and run rather than just being built and forgotten about?
Then we’ve got issues about capacity, capability and diversity of the workforce, because we’ve got a terribly poor record on that at the moment. I’ve got seven grandchildren – soon to be eight – and five of them are girls. I would be really disappointed if at least one of the girls doesn’t end up in construction.
One thing that is a promising sign is the genuine support from senior politicians. It’s great to see that level of engagement and hopefully government – of whatever flavour – will be interested in taking long-term decisions for the benefit of the whole nation.
Managing Director, SELECT
A commitment to quality
Launched in October, the Construction Accord is a shared commitment to help businesses thrive, enhance working conditions for employees, improve the delivery of construction quality, and assist with net zero goals.
Described as the first of its kind in the UK, the Accord highlights the need to improve the “capability and diversity” of the construction workforce, reform procurement practices and increase the use of digital technology and modern methods of construction.
The document was launched by Business Minister Ivan McKee and industry leaders acting through the Construction Leadership Forum and its implementation will now be driven by a Transformation Action Plan, with SELECT among the working groups focusing on priorities.
Find out more at www.constructionforum.scot