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Focus On Skills Crisis

THERE is a new minister with responsibility for construction following the PM’s major cabinet reshuffle just before the summer recess.
He is Matthew Hancock, MP for West Suffolk. However, with a general election scheduled in less than a year, Mr Hancock will have little time to get to grips with his new responsibilities, including minister of state at the department for business, innovation and skills, and minister of state at the department of energy and climate change.
Nevertheless, with a seat in cabinet, Mr Hancock will have the ear of the heads of government.
Notwithstanding that construction is a relatively very minor part or Mr Hancock’s brief, he has already had an appeal from leaders in this sector, urging him to address the skills crisis.
Judy Lowe, deputy chairman of CITB, said it was hoped that Mr Hancock would provide a ‘strong lobbying influence that could tip the balance on increasing urgency within government on tackling the skills crisis’.
Construction Leadership Council member and Midas group chairman Steve Hindley said the industry should ‘try to get as much as possible from the government in the next few months before the election’ as it seeks votes and the industry seeks backing for new projects.
Mark Robinson, chief executive of the local authority builder Scape said it was ‘imperative that we have strong leadership from central government and solution-driven ministers’.
He added: ‘Rearranging the deck chairs can bring new ideas and creativity, but my concern is that the sheer number of changes across construction, education, housing, energy and planning, will leave us rudderless and drifting until the next election, as the incoming ministers try to grasp the complex challenges our industry is facing.’
Sarah McMonagle, head of external affairs at the Federation of Master Builders, said: ‘We hope that Mr Hancock does not repeat the mistakes made by his predecessor Michael Fallon, who did not make the most of this unique position that straddles both construction and energy policy.’
Noble Francis, economics director at the Construction Products Association, said he did not expect the reshuffle to have a ‘considerable impact’ on policy. ‘With less than a year to go until the election it is unlikely that we are going to see any major changes.’

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal. You can find them at