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BSRIA Institute / association Website
Last edited 10 Dec 2015

Achieving carbon targets and bridging the skills gap

In July 2015, BSRIA published a white paper ‘Achieving Carbon Targets and Bridging the Skills Gap’ developed for the Diamond Group Forum UK, written by Jeremy Towler.

The paper proposes that the lack of a single government point of contact or a long-term strategy leads to confusion and instability. It suggests that there is a lack of recognition of the engineering trade, and that university education is given greater recognition than apprenticeships despite a chronic shortage of all types of skills in the industry.

At a 60th anniversary executive Diamond Group discussion in London on 17th June 2015, 25 senior personnel from the industry were asked to address these issues and to answer two specific questions:

  • What does our industry need from government to deliver and achieve carbon targets over the next 10 years?
  • What does our industry need from government to recruit new entrants, upskill the existing workforce and change the diversity of the workforce?

On the first question, recommendations included:

  • Government should take a long-term strategic view to provide stability.
  • More attention needs to be given to the life-cycle in operation of low-carbon assets.
  • Government should legislate on energy consumption in buildings and consider financial penalties for non-compliance.
  • Cities and towns should have the power to independently implement local environmental standards.

On the second question, the report suggests the root causes of the skills gap are that:

  • Too many in government do not have an engineering background and so are disconnected from industry.
  • Schools do not start to inform students about engineering early enough.
  • There is poor linkage between schools and further education through technical colleges and apprenticeships.
  • There is poor communication about what engineering is and the value it adds to our economy.

Recommendations included:

  • More alternatives to university for school leavers, such as technology and industry colleges for 14 to 19-year-olds
  • Schools need to be incentivised on the number of students they get into apprenticeships and technical colleges, and not just the number they get into university.
  • Changing the image of the industry.
  • Government ensuring that apprenticeships are not just an excuse for cheap labour, but are well-structured and prepare individuals for a meaningful and rewarding career.
  • Creating awareness of engineering in schools at an early age.
  • Undertaking a review to provide data on skills and diversity across the sector.

Julia Evans, Chief Executive at BSRIA, said: “Government can help industry to communicate better to make engineering more interesting. We need to move the focus away from one of being a ‘construction industry’ to one focussed on ‘the built environment’... Government needs to help industry to find ways to be more inclusive in all demographic aspects, to attract more diversity into our industry and to raise the status of engineers – if necessary, through some form of incentivisation.”