The Construction Plant-hire Association’s (CPA) Training on Plant in Construction (TOPIC) Group has successfully hosted an industry forum to help formulate a framework for the future direction of skills and training for those involved with construction plant and equipment

This first event was hosted at Nuthurst Grange Hotel in Hockley Heath, Warwickshire, and was attended by a cross-section of over 70 people from plant hirers, plant manufacturers, contractors, clients, commercial training providers, further education and other organisations. The aim of the forum was to help provide a platform for the discussion and sharing of issues and factors around the skills and training agenda and to bring together those either needing, affected by, delivering or setting standards of skills for plant and equipment training.

The all-day forum was led by the Chair of the TOPIC Group, Bob Harper, Head of Training at A-Plant, and a number of speakers outlined the skills agenda from their perspective. These comprised Paul Whitehead from Highways England, Paul Allman from the Hawk Group, Ed Hudson from Liebherr GB, Michael Bashford from the Costain Group, Simon Keen from Reaseheath College and George Walton from Keith Cook Training.

Factors that arose in the speaker presentations included the quality and availability of skilled workers, Brexit, the issues of finding candidates genuinely interested in the industry, supporting existing employees, the desire to attract more diverse workforces, ageing workers approaching retirement and confusion surrounding standards. Following the presentations by the speakers, delegates participated in a number of group discussions to discuss the themes and issues raised by the speakers and to identify core issues that required further development.

A number of key issues emerged from the group discussions and included:

  • Implementing new technology to attract new people to the construction plant industry
  • Engaging with micro-businesses
  • Standardisation of qualifications and card schemes
  • Articulating career choices
  • Customers’ limited understanding of the operational aspects of plant
  • Marketing of career choices and meeting expectations.

Kevin Minton, Director of the CPA said: “This is the first time that we have held a forum of this type to help formulate a skills strategy for the future, but it was a great success and it provoked interesting debate regarding the recruitment, training, development and retention of a skilled workforce in the plant hire sector. It makes sense to canvas opinions from across the sector to help shape the future direction of skills development for construction plant and the next step will be for the TOPIC Group to take away the themes instigated in the forum to investigate and develop them further. Some very knowledgeable participants were involved in the discussions and made extremely positive and valuable contributions. We’d like to thank everyone who attended the forum.”


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