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Training the next generation in construction

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Apprenticeship standards, Employers

Headshot of Neil WellerThe publication of the construction route review this week sees the culmination of a years’ worth of discussion, research and testing. I remember discussing the concept of the construction route summit with the Institute in December 2021, with the summit taking place in March 2022.

The industry is a broad church with so many views and opinions that sometimes it is difficult to gather and get everyone’s views. The industry does however have people who genuinely care about the future and training the next generation. That is why the route summit was well attended with some excellent contributions. The discussions and presentations that took place that day clearly indicated the need for a whole-scale strategic review of the route before we as trailblazer chairs embarked on our revisions.

Since then, my experience of the review process can only be described as positive. It has been proactive, well managed and truly open throughout. And not just with trailblazer chairs, with anyone who wanted to get involved or know more about it. In my view, I think this has resulted in a document that bears a true reflection of the industry and strives to bring all the work on standards together to ensure apprentices and learners gain the knowledge and skills employers are going to need in the future. The scale of this task should not be underestimated. As can be seen in the principles and characteristics in the report, there are many areas for improvement, with lots of stakeholders working on them. Bringing these strands of work together is a challenge we as trailblazers and the Institute are committed to achieving in the revisions to our occupational standards.

The industry is responsible for some 40% of global emissions and directly responsible for the loss of habitat which is contributing to man-made climate and biodiversity crises. The industry is forever evolving and adapting to new technologies which enable us to creatively address these major challenges of our time. Never standing still is what makes the sector such an interesting place to work.

With my Troup Bywaters + Anders hat on, I hugely welcome the plan to make sustainability a principle that underpins every occupational standard in the route. Sustainable thinking can lead to the reduction of negative impacts on the environment whilst creating a positive impact on building users. We need to encourage a culture where we work with nature for the best possible outcomes for humanity and the planet.

Every project presents an opportunity – be it a new or refurbished development. The industry is only now learning how to capture and assess potential embodied carbon impacts, designing in a restorative way and selecting low embodied carbon alternatives. By looking at the materials with the highest quantities, it is possible to identify “easy wins” for the project; selecting materials which are recyclable and with high recycled content helps lower the embodied carbon. But it’s not just the design, the construction team also need to play their part. Sustainable construction means using renewable and recyclable materials when building new structures, as well as reducing energy consumption and waste.

To achieve whole life carbon reduction, that encompasses all scopes of emissions, the World Green Building Council have developed a Whole Life Carbon Vision and Commitment.

This vision calls on the building and construction sector to take action to ensure:

  1. All new and existing buildings to have net zero operational carbon emissions by 2030
  2. All new buildings to have >40% reduction in embodied carbon emissions by 2030
  3. All new buildings to have net zero embodied carbon emissions by 2050

These targets are far reaching and will require systemic change to achieve, and a combination of both operational and embodied carbon reduction is crucial. The vision gives guiding principles on achieving net zero in both areas. It is pleasing the see that the Institute plans to develop common KSBs for trailblazers that stem from the work of the UK Green Building Council.

Finally, it would be remiss of me not to share with you the work that Troup Bywaters + Anders has already done in this area towards regenerative design and addressing the climate and biodiversity crises through leadership, advocacy, education, and apprenticeships – creating positive social impact. Our first 20-21 Environmental, Social and Governance report is something we are very proud of. If you have a spare ten minutes, I would encourage you to read the report and see our journey.

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