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MSPs call for change

Construction firms urged to tackle long-term issues

Diversity and apprenticeships are among the issues identified


Construction industry leaders have been urged to step up their approach to tackling longstanding challenges such as skill training, diversity and a general resistance to change.

A report from a committee of MSPs says these are among a range of issues that would encourage growth in a sector that employs 147,000 people in Scotland.

The Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee inquiry into Scotland’s construction sector said it is “essential” that long-term value is the focus of public procurement rather than lowest cost. It also calls the Scottish Government to consider how public authorities and businesses can be better supported to make this a reality.

With an ageing workforce, skills shortages and lack of diversity in the construction workforce, the industry is urged to consider a sector specific approach to apprenticeship frameworks.

Women only account for 12% of the current construction workforce and MSPs say more must be done to encourage diversity and raise awareness of the broad range of careers available within the industry.

The report says innovation and off-site manufacture can be stifled by planning regulations and resistance to change and that new technology is vital to improve productivity in the sector.

Construction businesses of all sizes “struggle to access finance which can be a barrier to growth.”

Committee Convener Gordon Lindhurst, said: “The construction industry in Scotland is valued and plays a significant role in the economy, but there are also longstanding challenges which we have set out in this report.

“A failure to focus on long term value rather than simply on lowest cost, and a lack of finance are some of the barriers to productivity in the industry. While we saw pockets of good practice there was a lack of overall necessary change evident.”

“For the sector to realise its potential and be equipped to tackle these challenges, the Scottish Government must work together with industry to facilitate change across the whole sector.”

Mr Lindhurst added: “This was the first time the committee has done an inquiry looking at a whole sector and how it contributes to the economy.

“Only with sector wide leadership, collaboration and cultural change, will the construction sector be able to share best practice, tackle these challenges and achieve its full potential in contributing to Scotland’s economy.”

Scottish Labour MSP Jackie Baillie said: “The construction industry is vital to Scotland. We know that when it is failing to grow then so too is the wider economy.

“The SNP have failed to get to grips with the problems surrounding procurement right across the sector, leaving Scottish firms to miss out on vital contracts and the jobs that come with them.

“That’s why Scottish Labour supports a new industrial strategy which will deliver growth to the construction industry and help Scottish firms get a fair deal when it comes to public contracts.”

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