HSE to investigate concerns over contractors' skills gap

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is planning a probe into contractors' concerns that investing in skills and apprentices is leading to them losing out on work.

The National Contractors Forum - set up in April as part of CABE Space's Skills to Grow strategy - has already begun investigating the extent of the skills gap.

Major firms including Glendale, John O'Conner and Continental Landscapes are on board, and now the HSE has pledged its support.

Speaking at a skills debate at IoG Saltex last week - which featured representatives from the contractors forum, Royal Parks, Lantra, Birmingham City Council and CABE Space - HSE principal inspector Alan Plom said it was a major issue.

"We will be looking at procurement in local authorities because the loss of deep skills has been a concern to us," explained Plom.

"There are very good contractors paying a lot for training, but they are being undercut. That is also happening in local authorities and that is a major concern. It is not us waving a big stick, but the benefits of skills and competence extend from the individuals to the environment."

Consultant Bob Ivison has been leading on developing the contractors forum and hopes it will extend to examine client-contractor relationships in the near future.

Royal Parks Guild chairman Mike Fitt told HW the concept of a contractors forum had been well-received. "Contractors are very keen," he explained. "We need to put aside the competition aspects and work out what is important to the industry. We are all promoting the same business and if we all work together it will do better."


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