Responding to the UK Government’s much-anticipated Industrial Strategy unveiled recently, John Newcomb, Chief Executive of the Builders Merchants’ Federation (BMF) said:
“The BMF is pleased to see the Industrial Strategy recognises and showcases the construction industry through the announcement of a Construction Sector Deal.
“We believe that people and skills are the single most important aspect for the success of the deal and indeed, the Industrial Strategy. The BMF has long argued for parity of esteem between academic education and vocational training and skills and as a direct consequence of the start of the Apprenticeships’ Levy eight months ago, the BMF established its own Apprenticeship Training Agency to make it easier for builders’, plumbers’ and timber merchants to take on and support new apprentices.
“However, our members need to be free to use Levy payments to train apprentices in firms up or down the supply chain if we are to properly train the next generation of builders’ merchants, house-builders and construction workers. The BMF believes the 10% that employers will be allowed to spend elsewhere from next April is too low, and we question whether payments will be confined to just one other employer – instead of multiple employers – who can benefit, especially SME builders and allied trades who are the customers of merchants.
“It should be remembered that industries like construction and house-building cannot function properly without a vibrant, resilient, and enduring supply chain that the BMF represents. We therefore urge the Government to work with Britain’s Builders’ Merchants to ensure that we continue to deliver the building blocks needed for growth in order to meet the Industrial Strategy’s aims of boosting the economy, addressing low productivity, harnessing new technology, and improving incomes and living standards around the United Kingdom.”