Peter Hindle MBE, chairman of the Builders Merchant Federation opened the welcomed delegates to the 2015 BMF All-Industry Conference on Friday morning (June 19), giving his views on apprenticeships and the state of the industry.
“The election was a shock to most of us but I think economic certainty, growing public confidence and a desire for stability was a key factor in the final result,” he said. “There are questions about the issue of devolution; I think this is now going to be key and it could be a big deal for the construction industry as it forces legislation and building regulations to change.
In the short term, he said, the biggest challenge will be the skills shortage. “We have a massive skills gap. The apprenticeships push will help here and I’m happy to see the effort that the Government is putting behind it.”
However, he added that the Government would do well to wide its remit on apprenticeships. “Apprenticeships need to be taken seriously, but not just where tradespeople are concerned. We’ve heard a lot of talk about attracting new plumbers and builders, but nothing about apprentice builders’ merchants – we need to encourage apprentices into more than just the vocational trades.”
“For me, one of the key longer term issues is sustainability and I believe that the job of the entire of building sector will change to take this into account. Winners are going to be those who capture the idea of the circular recyling economy. The market has to change as resources get more scarce. We need to create a circular economy and deal more effectively with things such as on-site waste.”