Turner & Townsend discusses UK Budget 2017
Patricia Moore, Managing Director of Infrastructure for Turner & Townsend in the UK, has commented on the new budget: “The Spring Budget didn’t have any big or surprising announcements for infrastructure but there was some interesting detail which built upon the chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
“Philip Hammond’s £500 million a year plan to boost the skills of the UK’s future workforce through so-called T-Levels and maintenance loans is welcome news.
“The promotion of STEM subjects and Design Engineer Construct curricula are critical for the development of the next generation of infrastructure professionals. The new funding will mean educational institutions and industry will be able to provide more world-class training and clearer career paths.
“Building upon the Autumn Statement and Industrial Strategy, a key take-away from this Budget is the collaboration being encouraged between businesses, academia and government in driving innovation. The expected benefits are twofold - a much-needed improvement in productivity and ensuring the sector becomes far more attractive to young talent.
“Announcements such as the £90 million for additional PhD places aligned with the Industrial Strategy (of which 85 percent will be focused on STEM disciplines) is just one example of how funding and teaming up with industry will pave the way for future sector excellence. This collaborative, cross-sector approach is a significant development and the industry must get behind this vision and tap into opportunities.
“Funding and collaboration is vital but it is not the only solution. Infrastructure faces tough competition from the technology and manufacturing sectors in recruiting exceptional talent.
“With funding for T-Levels not coming into effect until 2019/2020, the infrastructure sector must take full advantage of current opportunities such as the Apprenticeship Levy which starts next month.
“Whilst the additional £23 million of funding to address the Midlands’ road networks is somewhat underwhelming, we’re hopeful that today’s Midlands Engine Strategy will provide clearer direction on priorities for the region.
“The budget included announcements for London with the chancellor signing a Memorandum of Understanding on the further devolution of powers and responsibilities to The Mayor and the Greater London Authority and local boroughs. Interestingly, there was no mention however for Crossrail 2 which was disappointing. We look forward to finding out more about the Mayor’s Transport Strategy which is expected during 2017."
Read the March 2017 issue of Construction Global here
Construction workers urged to down tools for mental health
The construction industry is being encouraged to stop all work for one hour to focus on the importance of physical and mental health. The plea is part of the ‘Stop. Make a Change.’ (SMAC) campaign which is asking construction organisations across the country t spend an hour thinking about physical health conditions, such as respiratory health, work-related stress, as well as mental health conditions including, but not limited to, depression, anxiety, OCD, and bipolar disorder.
This year, the campaign, which takes place from 11 to 22 October, will focus on individual workers, placing particular emphasis on how they have been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. In addition to encouraging workers to consider their health, safety, and wellbeing, they will also be asked how those areas can be improved
Andy Mitchell, co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council, said: “Our industry workforce is crucial to all of our future successes. We recognise the heroic efforts these workers have undertaken during the pandemic, and want to make sure that, as the industry hopefully emerges from COVID-19, we continue to look after everyone’s health, safety and wellbeing.”
Around 200,000 people took part in the campaign in 2019, which has been running since 2017. SMAC’s website also offers conversation starter kits to help encourage people to talk about their emotions and wellbeing, making it as natural as possible.
Suicide rates in the construction industry are increasing
A study by Glasgow Caledonian University found suicide rates among construction workers had risen to 29 per 100,000 in 2019 from 25 in 2015. Suicide rates among labourers increased by more than 50% from 48 per 100,000 in 2015 to 73 per 100,000 in 2019. However, the rate in non-construction-related industries has fallen, with just under five people per 100,000 taking their own lives in 2019 in comparison to 7 people in 2015.
If you work in the construction industry and need help, The Lighthouse charity provides free 24-hour, seven-days-a-week emotional and wellbeing support for those in the industry through its helpline available on 0345 605 1956 in the UK, or 1800 939 122 in the Republic of Ireland.
Lighthouse also has a free app where workers can access information that can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.