‘Hire staff directly’, CLC tells contractors

4 June 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

Contractors should gear up for the future by employing workers directly, adopting smart construction methods and updating their training.

That’s according to the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), which has published its Future Skills Report after a consultation with industry bodies, clients, the University of Cambridge, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and construction firms.

The CLC urged the industry to take action as it was on the cusp of “one of the greatest programmes of construction in history”, with a pipeline of more than £600bn of work but also faced the retirement of 30% of the workforce within the next decade and the end of free movement of workers from the European Union after Brexit.

The CLC’s report called on clients to agree a code of employment with contractors to ensure their workers are directly employed, ensuring it is in the employer’s best interest to train their staff and benefit from improved productivity.

It also urged firms to adopt smart construction methods through early design and procurement processes in order to create the demand for skilled employees.

And it recommended updating industry qualifications and training content to include smart construction techniques and behaviours, with funding made available to accelerate adoption.

Mark Reynolds, skills workstream lead at the CLC said: “This important report clearly sets out the challenge the industry and our clients face and the actions that must be taken now to avoid significant skills shortages in the future. When we have seen projects with higher levels of direct employment the results are often better, the workforce more engaged and ultimately the client and end users are happier with the final product.”

John O’Connor, Laing O’Rourke’s group commercial director and co-author of the report said: “We welcome this cross-sector report which details a clear action plan to address our future skills need. Ours is a changing industry and we need to attract digitally literate talent into our sector, who are committed to delivering projects in a virtual environment, integrated with an offsite manufacturing-led approach. Positively promoting such skills in our sector will ensure we continue to innovate in a modern and smart construction environment.”

To read the full report, click here.


The advantages of direct employment were well known to Construction-led managers. However, business decisions were handed over to Accountant-led management where long-term meant the next quarterly report and it all became about reducing direct cost (and increasing risk which was not their problem). If the above proposal is widely adopted it will have taken the Industry over 30 years to see sense and give good Construction Management its proper place.

Peter McKernan, 4 June 2019

Who listens?
This is great news for a lot of people, but, more destruction of natural amd enablement of natural habitat. I well remember th single-mindedness of heavy civil engineering and construction sites; however, there was (and is) a vast ignorance of the effects of construction on habitat and climate change is not hastened only in rainforests and polar regions but by the obsession and tunnel-visions.

Raymond Lee, 4 June 2019

Direct employment "should" enable employees to show a bit of loyalty, which leads to pride in the job and buy in of company ethos, it must be repaid with a decent wage and steady work stream, as well as real apprenticeships.

Tony Callaghan, 5 June 2019

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