Select Committee on Public Accounts Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (PAC 00-01/173)


  The Construction Industry Board (CIB) estimate that they represent about 90 per cent of construction companies (other than companies exclusively involved in engineering construction, for example of oil refineries). The 10 per cent not represented by the CIB include those small companies or the self-employed who elect not to become members of any trade association, or other umbrella body. The companies represented employ around 90 per cent of the total workforce, including professionals drawn from all parts of the industry.

  The CIB was established in 1995 in response to the Latham report. It was the first single industry-wide representative body that brought together contractors, specialists, professional advisers and clients.

  The CIB completed a review of their functions in June 2000. The Chairman's Report confirmed the need for a strategic pan-industry group to represent the industry. Negotiations are continuing between the umbrella bodies on the proposed arrangements.[7]

  The CIB's membership (flag 1) comprises the four umbrella bodies of the "supply" side of the industry, representing a collective membership of over 150 trade associations and professional institutions:

    —  Construction Industry Council (consultants, institutions, and research bodies);

    —  Construction Industry Employers' Council (lead contractors);

    —  Constructors' Liaison Group (specialist contractors);

    —  Construction Products Association (producers and distributors of construction products).

  Membership of the Confederation of Construction Clients is proposed; and DETR as sponsoring department for the construction industry, attends CIB meetings as an observer.


  There has been growing awareness in the construction industry over the last 18 months or so of the increasing difficulty of recruiting and retaining the talent and skills it needs. The workforce is ageing: in 10 years the proportion under 30 years old has dropped from 33 per cent to 25 per cent. The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) estimates the industry will require about 73,000 new recruits each year for the next five years. Applications to relevant university courses are down over the last five years by a third for architecture and a half for building/construction and civil engineering.

  A growing number of leading players in the industry recognise that they must improve their performance on recruitment and retention. They will do so only if they radically improve their performance on what we call "Respect for People"—which covers health, safety, diversity, site conditions and welfare as well as training. Last November the "Rethinking Construction" working group on respect for people issues published a report entitled A Commitment to People: our biggest asset. The toolkits and performance measures which they produced have been widely welcomed. They will be trialled by demonstration projects and organisations before being revised and published for use by the wider industry early next year. We hope that they will encourage the industry to improve their performance.

  Some significant steps towards improving standards of training were announced at the Construction "Safety Summit" on 27 February. The Confederation of Construction Clients and representatives of major contractors committed themselves to achieve on projects for which they are client or contractor:

    —  100 per cent registration of all operatives by the end of 2002;

    —  A fully-qualified workforce by the end of 2003.

  These measures are endorsed by the Office of Government Commerce. New OGC procurement guidance to be issued to government departments and agencies will recommend that they commit to similar targets on projects for which they are clients.


12 March 2001

7   The Construction Industry Board will be wound up at the end of June, succeeded by the Strategic Forum for Construction chaired by Sir John Egan. DETR press release 2 May/No 248 refers. Back

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