Ponder this: the UK construction industry employs 18 times the workforce of the aerospace industry. It generates 10 times the GDP of the automotive industry. So why do we have an industrial strategy for aerospace and automotive, but not for construction?Three reasons. First, practical; an industry of many voices is hard to deal with. Second, rational; the effort of successive governments has been invested where they expect the greatest return, in productivity and growth. Construction is seen as big, but boring. Third, political; since 1979 the ideology of both main political parties has been instinctively laissez-faire (which translates approximately as “you’re on your own mate”) and transactional. Government support has been reactive to the sectors which organised themselves. Construction has not.So does this government’s industrial strategy offer anything new? Not practically, insofar as it is clear any support will still be reactive. To quote from January’s Building our Industrial Strategy green paper: “The government will respond positively to compelling propositions.”I sense the government wants to help. Lord Prior, the new construction minister, wants to hear how UK construction can be a successBut emotionally there is a change. I sense the government wants to help. Lord Prior, the new construction minister, wants to hear how UK construction can be a success and how the government can help in that. And I believe the construction industry can organise itself, and can make its case.The first step is to articulate the prize, in terms of productivity and growth. History suggests that could be hard. This is an industry whose productivity has been basically flat since 1997 and is now 20% below the UK average, and whose output took a nosedive in the 2008 recession. But an industrial strategy is about looking forward not back.Management consultant McKinsey has estimated that technology could cut costs in construction globally by 40%. The UK’s construction strategy is more conservative at 33%. But 33% of a £120bn industry is a big number – £39.6bn to be precise. That means £39.6bn of productivity gains to be unlocked. If UK construction could lead the world in efficiency, the idea that it could become a serious export industry doesn’t look so daft after all.Step two is to set out what our industrial strategy needs to comprise in order to deliver the Construction 2025 vision.Here is my seven point plan:Align behind the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) The government has been explicit that it will only work with a sector “which can organise behind strong leadership”. If we want an industrial strategy for construction then we all need to accept that the CLC should lead those discussions, and be willing to implement its recommendations as to how our industry is organised.Launch a campaign to promote the industry, especially to the millennial generation Engineering needs to be associated with making the world a better place, not delays on the railway. Bricklaying needs to be associated with building homes and communities, not rain and mud.Sort out training and apprenticeships throughout the industry, not just in particular disciplines like railway engineering Mark Farmer’s report is a blueprint for the way forward. I would start with fundamental reform of the CITB and put in place a single apprenticeship portal for the entire industry, so it is as easy to apply to work in this industry as it is to apply to university.Invest jointly in innovation, to raise the level of R&D spend Spending on research and development should shift up from the current paltry 1% of revenue to nearer the circa 4% spent in the aerospace and automotive industries. The use of off-site manufacture should become the norm, not the exception. This will require clients to invest alongside contractors and could involve setting up an industry-led UK national construction innovation centre.Promote collaboration throughout the supply chain Building information modelling (BIM) is just one component of that. Data on public assets needs to be recognised as a public good and made available on common platforms. The buying behaviour of clients is also key.Reform procurement Clients buying a fixed price for supposedly fixed outputs is the fundamental cause of the structural weakness of the industry. We need clients to buy on the basis of long-term partnership, buying capability not output, and focussing on whole-life efficiency. This is the Infrastructure Client Group’s Project 13 agenda, to be launched shortly.Create a single pipeline platform This would allow the entire industry to have visibility of forward demand and allow it to invest accordingly. The government has now consolidated its infrastructure and construction pipelines, but 70% of the industry value is fragmented private demand.So where is the ask of government in all this? I have been deliberately silent on that. We need to accept that 90% of the solution lies in our own hands as an industry. Then we can set out for Government a “compelling proposition” it cannot refuse.Richard Threlfall is head of infrastructure, building and construction at KPMG
PRIZED ASSET Russell, meanwhile, is also viewed as a prized asset in the T20 format, where his explosive lower order batting, steady medium pace and outstanding fielding has earned him contracts in nearly every league across the world. He has scored nearly 4,100 runs from 166 matches, taken 244 wickets and 121 catches. Both players are currently campaigning in the Caribbean Premier League which wraps up Sunday in Port of Spain. Gayle is captain of St Kitts and Nevis Patriots while Russell skippers Jamaica Tallawahs. Barbados-born England all-rounder, Chris Jordan, was also drafted and will showcase his skills for the Paktia franchise, headed by legendary Pakistani all-rounder Shahid Afridi. Exciting leg-spinner Rashid Khan will lead Kabul as their ‘icon’ with New Zealand batting star Brendon McCullum named as the ‘icon’ for Kandahar. Each of the five franchises were expected to choose between 17 and 20 players, with five compulsory overseas players. DUBAI, UAE (CMC): West Indies superstars Chris Gayle and Andre Russell have been drafted as ‘icons’ for their respective franchises in the Afghanistan Premier League which bowls off next month. In the draft staged here Monday, Balkh picked up the veteran Gayle as their ‘icon’ player while Nangarhar snatched up all-rounder Russell. The duo are the only West Indies players involved in the inaugural tournament which runs from October 5-21 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Though in the twilight of his career, Gayle remains a highly sought-after player on the global T20 circuit. The Jamaican, who turns 39 in ten days, holds the record for the most career T20 runs with 11,711 and the most centuries with 21.
In 2005, Liberia, the oldest democracy in Africa, elected its first female President and recorded yet another first achievement by becoming the first country in Africa to elect a female President. Despite this major achievement, a huge gap remains in the participation of women in politics. Liberian women are underrepresented in politics and as the country prepares for its presidential and legislative elections in 2017, very few women have indicated their interest.Over the years, we have seen such blatant violations of women’s rights in the political arena and instead of being concerned about the meaningful involvement of women, particularly young women in politics; people have sadly begun to accept these violations as normal. Anecdotal reports raises the question on whether Liberians are interested or concerned in statistics on gender representation in government.In the 73-member House of Representative, female representation has dropped to seven per cent, from 12.5 percent. The number of female senators also decreased from five to four from the fifteen contested Senate seats. Currently, there is no political party headed by a woman. Power is wielded by older generations and mainly by the privileged men who control the social economic circles such as the armies, economies, political parties, mainstream media and families.The key impetus for promoting women’s participation and leadership in matters of peace and security has of course been UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) that reaffirms ‘the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building, stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, and the need to increase their role in decision making…’ (UNSCR 1325: Preamble)One of the Global Citizenship Commission’s recommendations, which are long overdue, is that every country has a Youth Parliament that can meet to debate and campaign for young people and the services they need. By extension, we need to commence action on getting more women involved in politics.Collective political dialogue is the only true pathway to begin addressing this gap in a sustainable and holistic manner.According to the priority actions from the statement of mutual commitments on peacebuilding in Liberia, more targeted outreach is required to empower civil society organizations, with a focus on women to assume their critical role in the country’s peacebuilding and recovery efforts.As we prepare for the next elections and advocate for the active participation of women, there is need first and foremost to recognize underpinning issues of widening political divisions, which underscores a need for national healing, reconciliation and responsible involvement of women in Liberian politics.At Messengers of Peace (MOP)-Liberia, we recognize the need for appropriation of posts and appointments to the cabinet and other government posts and we commend ongoing government programs and efforts to place women in these posts. Now that we have established the need for more involvement of women in Liberian politics and publicly publish data on the number of women in politics, everyone will be watching; it is up to our current and future government to do a better job at meeting its commitments to women empowerment and leadership.Until next week, when we continue our dialogue among Peace Messengers-The Health Status of the Liberian Women, it is Peace First, Peace above all else. May Peace prevail on earth!Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)