As a collaborative R&D project focused, initially, on the construction skills challenges of London and the southeast, our SkillsPlanner team has learned a lot about the need for joined-up thinking in and around the capital. We have also watched the London Mayoral and Greater London Assembly elections with considerable interest. Now that the votes have been cast, we hope Sadiq Khan, his GLA colleagues, and his proposed “Skills for Londoners” Task Force will make a profound difference in how we deliver future skills to support new housing and infrastructure over the next five years – and beyond.
As the CIOB’s CEO Chris Blythe recently remarked, the lack of a construction skills pipeline could damage the London Mayor’s housing and infrastructure plans. But it’s not just about our immediate skills shortages.
We also need to show young people that they can enjoy a long, exciting and rewarding career while they help deliver our built assets. And as London grows and technologies change, our people also need to know they can retrain, gain new knowledge and skills, and continue to contribute to the London construction economy.
Our ambitions seem well aligned with Mr Khan’s manifesto commitments:
- to “develop a city-wide, strategic approach to skills…”
- to “map the skills gap”
- to “create a pipeline of skilled London workers”, and
- to “close the gap between our … housing targets and the need for more skilled construction workers in London.”
To do this, in our view, high quality information – data – will be vital. If we can clearly forecast future skills needs and match London organisations’ ability to deliver, we can reassure both workers and employers – and London policy-makers. I hope Sadiq Khan encourages more pan-London data-sharing, including via SkillsPlanner, to help us make construction better connected and more resilient.