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CONSTRUCTION AND HEALTHCARE: HOW BUILDING ON RELATIONSHIPS IS KEY

DEALING with the pandemic has brought the relationship between the construction and healthcare industries into sharp focus, sparking new and innovative ways of working – and the future is looking bright. That was the key message from national framework provider Pagabo’s latest ‘Building Blocks’ podcast, hosted by executive chairman Gerard

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New Community Connections Programme Unveiled

A new, national, engagement programme supporting communities across Scotland to recover from the COVID pandemic through heritage, has been launched by Historic Environment Scotland (HES).  Community Connections is a new unified framework working with community groups and organisations across Scotland todeliver a range of collaborative projects through sharing resources, networks, knowledge, and expertise. The aim is to show how the heritage that matters locally can play a vital role in supporting the post-pandemic recovery – often in surprising and creative ways.   The programme’s initial focus is to develop  projects around the following key areas:   health and

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As COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed, CICV Forum issues new health and safety animation, urging workers to keep protecting themselves and others

The Construction Industry Coronavirus (CICV) Forum has issued another in its series of engaging advice videos, reminding workers how to keep themselves and others safe as the COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed. The 90-second animation is the latest in a string of easy-to-follow Forum films designed to help construction workers protect

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HAE EHA WINS GOLD FOR BATTLE AGAINST VIRUS

The vital support that Hire Association Europe and Event Hire Association (HAE EHA) provided to its members during the Covid-19 pandemic has been recognised at the prestigious National Association Awards 2021. CEO Paul Gaze and Marketing Project Lead Stuart Tyrrell collected the Gold for Best Covid Response award at the

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What Should Businesses Know About Vaccination Requirements?

There are a lot of controversies currently surrounding vaccinations or at least whether or not they can and should be required by businesses in the U.S. Around the globe so-called vaccine passports as well as mandates have sparked protests and serious conflict. In the U.S., now many employers have said

Read More »

Keep masks on while working on site, urges industry body

Building firms are being urged to carry on asking their workforce to wear masks while working in enclosed spaces or on busy sites by the Construction Leadership Council, CLC. The CLC is calling for a consistent approach in line with government guidance as rules on social distancing and face masks

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RMI Contractor’s output down due to Covid-19 pandemic

RMI contractors’ output in 2020 fell due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. While most social housing providers have been able to maintain essential responsive repair services, the provision of planned maintenance has been impacted. Capitalised RMI expenditure for the year was £1.6bn, against a £2.4bn forecast for the

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LAB TECHNICIAN CRISIS TECH SKILLS SHORTAGE WILL HAVE HUGE IMPACT ON THE UK’S  COVID LAB TESTING CAPABILITY & FUTURE RESILIENCE

The CEO of a British technology training firm and tech think tank has warned of a looming crisis facing UK laboratories – in particular those at the forefront of Covid-19 testing – due to a massive shortage of qualified and skilled lab technicians.    Andy Lord, CEO of Manchester head-quartered Credersi, a tech talent training incubator

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How COVID Has Affected Health and Safety in Trade

As the UK begins its exit from lockdown, the trade industry can look to slowly relax its Covid restrictions. Life-critical health and safety product provider, Reece Safety looked at how the pandemic has changed health and safety across the trade industry, and whether the stricter elements brought about by the pandemic are

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Latest Issue

BDC 317 : Jun 2024

coronavirus

CONSTRUCTION AND HEALTHCARE: HOW BUILDING ON RELATIONSHIPS IS KEY

DEALING with the pandemic has brought the relationship between the construction and healthcare industries into sharp focus, sparking new and innovative ways of working – and the future is looking bright. That was the key message from national framework provider Pagabo’s latest ‘Building Blocks’ podcast, hosted by executive chairman Gerard Toplass. The construction industry was given a glimpse of how the future could look as a result of the government’s plans for major investment in healthcare over the next decade, thanks to a vastly improved, collaborative and well-integrated supply chain, which evolved during the pandemic. The ways in which the whole industry united and problem-solved on the hoof was nothing short of impressive, adapting rapidly to ever-changing guidance to ensure as much certainty and support for clients as possible. This was a point driven home by podcast guest Stuart McArthur, health sector lead at Sir Robert McAlpine, who was also joined by John Carson, head of capital development and planning at NTW Solutions (a subsidiary of Cumbria, Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust), and Stephen Jenkins, director at Turner and Townsend. Throughout the conversation, the group discussed the ramifications of COVID-19, how their various projects were affected, the lessons learned, and how that all feeds into the future – particularly in relation to the benefits of frameworks. The challenges faced The number one priority for any and all businesses – no matter their industry – was the health and safety of staff. This was especially true within healthcare and its associated supply chains to be able to continue to deliver critical work and services. During the initial days of the first lockdown, many construction sites ground to a halt while clarity was provided on what work should continue. But when this clarity was provided from the government, the industry reacted with real agility, flexibility and innovation to find ways to keep schemes going, while introducing the necessary safety measures. Stephen Jenkins recalled the agility seen on construction sites, combining with a centralised and joined-up project management approach leading the way on solving the new problems thrown up each day. This attitude towards evolving practises and procedures in a safe and sensible way is something that was echoed in the pre-construction phase as well and is something that will certainly benefit the wider industry moving to the future. John Carson, whose team was involved in creating the NHS Nightingale Hospital North East also reiterated the personal impact. There had to be a focus on wellbeing and looking after people’s mental health. People have very different tolerance levels, and the pandemic had a detrimental effect on everyone due to the combined uncertainty and personal challenges they were facing. Certainly, one of the biggest changes we have seen in the industry is the impact COVID-19 has had on both designs and costings as clients look to ‘pandemic-proof’ hospitals and other schemes, as well as considering how more remote working of staff can impact capital costs. Knitting together relationships and futureproofing through frameworks The real power of frameworks comes from the long-term relationships that can be built, which are over time continually improved to form some of the strongest working collaborations in the market. This is something particularly pertinent in the healthcare sector, where there are hugely complex clients. With the NHS and its entities there are multi-stakeholder environments that bring together clinical and technical expertise, and there are very rigorous and complex approvals processes to navigate too. Clients and the frameworks that projects are procured through have all evolved over time. All have evolved to put more focus on social value, wanting to demonstrate the wider benefits from schemes – particularly large-scale healthcare projects – in the wider society. They often provide the best value to clients, but it is important to remember that best value is about more than just costs. The benefit of frameworks is the overarching platform, broader objectives and a longer-term timescale they have, which allow behaviours to be built over time and focus to be put on values and outcomes. This bigger picture of best value brings together strands – such as technology and carbon – that have previously been looked at in silos until very recently, when they are inherently connected. The key to unlock all of this is digital and data. For example, the right digital construction techniques and toolkits will enable better and more adoption of modern methods of construction (MMC), along with the parallel assessment of carbon impact. The Construction Playbook – which was first published almost a year ago and has provided the whole industry with direction on a number of core best practice principles – focuses heavily on MMC and digital adoption. These methods will combine with ongoing learnings from the supply chain, such as the real value in repetitive design. For example, once a treatment room or seclusion suite has been designed, the knowledge is there and can be repeated – and through MMC methods like modular construction can be built much more quickly. Together, the construction and healthcare sectors continue to innovate and work together to tackle combined issues – and create a better future for everyone, knitted together by a data-driven approach. You can listen to the most recent episode of Pagabo’s ‘Building Blocks’ podcast on Anchor and YouTube, and for more information please visit https://www.pagabo.co.uk/. 

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New Community Connections Programme Unveiled

A new, national, engagement programme supporting communities across Scotland to recover from the COVID pandemic through heritage, has been launched by Historic Environment Scotland (HES).  Community Connections is a new unified framework working with community groups and organisations across Scotland todeliver a range of collaborative projects through sharing resources, networks, knowledge, and expertise. The aim is to show how the heritage that matters locally can play a vital role in supporting the post-pandemic recovery – often in surprising and creative ways.   The programme’s initial focus is to develop  projects around the following key areas:   health and wellbeing    skills and volunteering    creativity     climate change    community and destination regeneration     In addition to exciting opportunities to develop fresh ideas under the programme, participants can also gain access to HES’s vast network of professionals across Scotland  who are looking to help communities recover and thrive.    As well as devising and delivering a range of future collaborative projects, the new, dedicated HES programme will also provide a range of supporting initiatives to benefit local communities. These include a new online ‘Community Connections Forum’ hosting discussions, workshops, and events with HES employees and communities. This will provide an interactive platform for inspiring opportunities and growing collaborations.   The programme will also feature regular online discussion events entitled Scotland’s Community Heritage Conversations,  bringing together volunteers, community groups and heritage professionals. The discussions among a partnership featuring HES, Archaeology Scotland, The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, Scottish Council for Archives, and the Scottish Community Heritage Alliance, will aim to celebrate resilience within community groups and examine the connections between heritage and wellbeing, arts, and culture.   Elsewhere, Community Connections will also include HES employees delivering interactive talks to community groups, as well as encouraging partnership initiatives, volunteer engagement and community events.  Commenting on the programme, Alison Turnbull, HES Director of Development and Partnership, said: “Although the initial focus will be on helping with COVID recovery, as the prorgramme develops it will be about ensuring communities can confidently and easily access our knowledge and expertise, so we can prioritise our resources to make a positive difference - connecting and collaborating and using local heritage to have a positive impact across the country. “  Stephen Duncan, HES Director of Commercial and Tourism, added: “Our new programme is not just about the heritage sector, as we are looking at how we can provide a contribution to community recovery across a range of different sectors as well as different themes, such as health and wellbeing by using our Properties In Care and sites to inform and deliver activities, such as organised health walks around our green spaces for example.” 

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As COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed, CICV Forum issues new health and safety animation, urging workers to keep protecting themselves and others

The Construction Industry Coronavirus (CICV) Forum has issued another in its series of engaging advice videos, reminding workers how to keep themselves and others safe as the COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed. The 90-second animation is the latest in a string of easy-to-follow Forum films designed to help construction workers protect themselves and their colleagues, customers and families after Scotland moved out of Level 0 this week (Monday 9 August). It follows the Forum’s warning last month that the sector is “not out of the woods yet” and that each worker has a vitally important role to play in continuing to maintain good hygiene. Among the practical advice, the animation reminds construction professionals to make sure they’re vaccinated, register with Test and Protect, take regular lateral flow tests and familiarise themselves with the rules around self-isolation. While on-site, it also reminds them to carry out thorough risk assessments, keep work spaces ventilated, wash hands, tools and surfaces regularly, continue to observe physical distancing and wear appropriate face coverings where required. Rebecca Crosland, Chair of the Forum’s Health and Safety group, and Head of Health & Safety at the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), said: “With the recent relaxation of COVID-19 rules, we are now entering a new phase where it is still vitally important to be careful both in our professional and personal lives. “This video is designed to remind construction professionals that it’s vital not to forget the lessons learned so far, and of the practical steps they should all keep taking to protect themselves and their customers, colleagues and loved ones. “Make no mistake – COVID-19 is still a very real threat and we can’t afford to relax yet. However, hopefully this will serve as a practical reminder to familiarise themselves with the latest government advice and continue carrying out the safe working practices that have been adopted over the past 18 months.” The new guidance follows a range of other informative Forum videos that have helped to steer the sector through the pandemic, including advice on face coverings, guidance on travel and information for those carrying out domestic work. The video was developed by Iain Mason, Chair of the Forum’s Communications sub-group and Director of Membership & Communication at SELECT, another leading member of the Forum. He said: “Since the CICV Forum began in March 2020, our animations have proved to be highly effective in delivering vial health and safety messaging, and we hope this new video will continue to get more important advice across to construction professional everywhere. “It’s been heartening to see how people across the industry have pulled together to get us through the past 18 months, and as we enter this new phases we must ensure that we all continue with this level of cooperation and collaboration. “This latest animation continues the Forum’s key message that we are all #InThis Together and the importance of workers taking personal responsibility to protect themselves, their colleagues and the wider community.” The CICV Forum is made up of 29 trade associations, professional services bodies and companies. Since its inception, it has maintained a steady supply of information and practical advice to the sector as well as carrying out surveys, producing animations and posters, hosting webinars and speaking with government ministers. Last month it issued a secure site risk assessment template and close working checklist to help construction professionals plan for projects, with both available to download for free from the Forum website. Watch the new video…

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HAE EHA WINS GOLD FOR BATTLE AGAINST VIRUS

The vital support that Hire Association Europe and Event Hire Association (HAE EHA) provided to its members during the Covid-19 pandemic has been recognised at the prestigious National Association Awards 2021. CEO Paul Gaze and Marketing Project Lead Stuart Tyrrell collected the Gold for Best Covid Response award at the Copthorne Tara Hotel in Kensington on behalf of the organisation for members who hire or manufacture plant, tools and event equipment. Hosted by Sky TV sports presenter and entertainer Jonny Nelson, the audience represented trade associations from a huge variety of UK industry sectors. HAE EHA was on the front foot from the start of the first lockdown of the pandemic, creating a Covid-19 Response Team and becoming the go-to place for information, guidance and news, with numerous resources to help hire companies both small and large to understand what was happening, how it affected them, and where they could turn to for help. In addition to Covid-19 email updates, HAE EHA supplied dedicated newsletters and communications carrying links to key information on the HAE EHA website, gov.uk, or to funding sources, political statements, guidance on HR and SSP, and message templates helping members to deliver information to their own customers. Covid-19 Response Workshops were also organised and held virtually using webinar platforms for numerous essential subjects. These covered mental health and wellbeing, practical guidance on social distancing, developing business resilience, event hire practical guidance and other related subjects – all designed to assist members during the crisis. Many businesses in the tool, plant, and equipment hire sector either remained open or have since reopened operations for customers after lockdowns. HAE EHA lobbied the UK Governments during the pandemic to help ensure that hire and rental was deemed as essential retail, implementing appropriate measures to minimise the spread of infection, including social distancing and hygiene arrangements. The hire industry was rarely singled out in any of the government guidance or legislation, rather it was referenced in the broader context of construction, so HAE EHA says it was vital to cut through the generalisations and highlight the relevant matters to its members. Paul Gaze said: “Our response to the pandemic demonstrates a true understanding of our members and the people who work in hire. This award reflects the efforts of our member-led board and staff to deliver critical support for the hire industry during the most challenging times that most of us have ever faced. We are delighted that this has been recognised nationally in what has been a real team effort.” This could be the first half of a sensational double, as HAE EHA has also entered the Best Membership Support During Covid-19 category in the Association Excellence Awards, being held on October 7th at the Kia Oval in London. For more information visit www.hae.org.uk

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What Should Businesses Know About Vaccination Requirements?

There are a lot of controversies currently surrounding vaccinations or at least whether or not they can and should be required by businesses in the U.S. Around the globe so-called vaccine passports as well as mandates have sparked protests and serious conflict. In the U.S., now many employers have said they will require their employees to have a COVID-19 vaccine before they return to work. Major companies like Walt Disney World have announced the requirements, and now, a lot of private companies also say they’re going to ask customers to show proof of vaccination as well. In New York City, it was just announced that vaccine passports would be required to go into certain businesses and venues. As the first city in the country to require proof of vaccination, Mayor DeBlasio said it would apply to indoor dining, gyms, and performances. You would have to show your CDC vaccination card or use the state’s Excelsior Pass. The Mayor spoke at a press conference saying his objective was to increase vaccinations rather than reverting to old methods like mask mandates. Despite that, public officials are once again urging even vaccinated people to wear masks in indoor locations. Many are questioning what rights businesses have in these situations. Companies are accustomed to facing issues of liability, but this is somewhat uncharted territory. For example, questions might arise about what would happen if you didn’t require employees and customers to get vaccinated and then someone became sick. Could employees and customers potentially make a personal injury claim against a business? There are some things we don’t know yet, at least as far as how they might play out in future legal cases, but the following are some of the things we do know about businesses and vaccines requirements. Current Mandates Larger employers are starting to work to take steps to either require their employees to get vaccinated or if not, get regularly tested for COVID. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recently announced a mandate for health care workers, and President  Joe Biden also announced his administration requires federal employees to be vaccinated or get tested. Vaccine Passports A vaccine passport is a document showing that someone has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. These are used to regulate international travel in some cases or to prevent unvaccinated people from entering certain spaces. States like New York and Hawaii already have some form of a vaccine passport, in that residents can upload their vaccine credentials and then access and show them digitally. In general, private employers might be able to require a COVID-19 vaccine or a passport program unless there is something in state or local law preventing them from doing so. There is not anything in the federal law right now that prevents an employer from mandating COVID-19 vaccines in their business. The EEOC recently updated their technical assistance to specify that under federal law, employers can require all employees who enter the workplace be vaccinated for COVID-19. They do have to make reasonable accommodation and keep disparate treatment considerations in mind, however. A recently dismissed district court lawsuit was brought by hospital employees who were required to vaccinate as a condition of their employment. The court rejected the employees’ argument that the requirement would violate federal statute regarding emergency use authorization and the federal regulation about informed consent for human subjects. In that case, the court also went on to say that the vaccine requirement was in line with public policy. By contrast, it’s very possible that state and local laws can prevent you from requiring vaccines. For example, there’s at least one state that prevents employers from refusing employment or discriminating against someone due to vaccination status. If it’s something you’re considering, you need to make sure you comply with state and local laws. In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order in April that prevents businesses from asking customers to show proof of vaccination to receive service. Incentives Could Be Another Option If you have a business, but you don’t necessarily want to require employees to get a vaccine, another way to compel them could be offering incentives. This may seem more appealing and less controversial to your employees. According to guidance from the EEOC, an employer can incentivize an employee to confirm their vaccination status voluntarily, but there are limitations. For example, an employer can’t incentivize an employee in exchange for their family member getting vaccinated by the employer. Also, if someone can’t be vaccinated because of a disability or religious belief may be able to seek accommodation that would then entitle them to the same incentives that you offer to other employees. Ask Your Employees Their Thoughts There’s a lot for businesses to think about right now. As was touched on, it’s not just their employees they’re thinking about requiring to be vaccinated. Several high-end restaurants in New York City announced they would require customers to be vaccinated for indoor dining, even before the city’s large-scale announcement. If you aren’t sure what’s right for your employees and your business, consider asking them. It’s a good time to conduct a survey and ask for feedback on what people’s attitudes about vaccination are right now. Could FDA Approval Help? Some businesses say they’re going to wait until there’s at least one vaccine with full FDA approval before they require it. Currently, the three available vaccines in the U.S. only have emergency use authorization. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found three in 10 unvaccinated respondents said they’d be more likely to get it if there was one approved. The labor market is challenging for employees on the flip side of all of this right now, and many employers are having a hard time finding workers. That’s leaving them to think that maybe it’s not the right time to add an additional hurdle for employment. As far as the legality, it’s largely legal to require your employees and even your customers to get vaccinated, but that doesn’t mean it’s the

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Keep masks on while working on site, urges industry body

Building firms are being urged to carry on asking their workforce to wear masks while working in enclosed spaces or on busy sites by the Construction Leadership Council, CLC. The CLC is calling for a consistent approach in line with government guidance as rules on social distancing and face masks relax from the 19th of July. “It is recommended the good practices the industry had adopted over the last 18 months are retained,” said the CLC in their public statement released today. It advises employers to make face coverings available for staff when they are working in crowded or enclosed spaces but are no longer wearing respiratory protective equipment. The CLC said its site operating procedures were still available as a reference to offer businesses across the supply chain consistency. Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said SME builders were likely to support mask-wearing to protect staff and keep sick leave levels low – something property development finance lenders would also support.  Government toughens face mask guidance The government appears to have backtracked on earlier announcements when it said face masks would no longer be necessary post the 19th of July. Yesterday it advised people to wear masks in shops and at work and that table service would remain at bars. London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has announced that mask-wearing would continue to be mandatory for tube and bus travellers. Greater Manchester’s mayor Andy Burnham has said that passengers using the city’s tram service would have to wear masks. Major retailers such as Sainsbury’s and Waterstones have asked customers visiting their outlets to wear masks. Mask-wearing in enclosed spaces and on public transport will continue to be mandatory in Wales and Scotland.

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RMI Contractor’s output down due to Covid-19 pandemic

RMI contractors’ output in 2020 fell due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. While most social housing providers have been able to maintain essential responsive repair services, the provision of planned maintenance has been impacted. Capitalised RMI expenditure for the year was £1.6bn, against a £2.4bn forecast for the year as of January 2020. This was because of lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures, limiting the ability of workers to carry out planned maintenance works. Between 2000 and 2018, the level of social housing RMI contractors’ output had been on a downward trajectory. In 1997, £9.3bn of RMI work was carried out on five and a half million social homes but by 2010 there were less than four million. A key reason for the year-on-year decrease in output between 2016 and 2020 was the annual 1% cut in rents brought about by the government in 2016, which lead to falls in rental income and hence less to invest in property. The impact of the arrival of the pandemic in Q1 2020 does not show up in the annual financial accounts of housing associations and the housing revenue accounts (HRAs) of local authorities for 2019/2020. However, once published later in 2021, the 2020/2021 annual accounts are expected to show a fall in revenues and expenditure. The falls in revenues are indicative of the increase in rent arrears, due to both the furloughing of tenants by their employers and the inability to work due to covid-19 infection or the loss of jobs. Social housing tenants in employment typically work in sectors that have proved vulnerable to the impact of the pandemic such as public transport, healthcare, hospitality and retail. However, with the fall in infections, the success of the vaccination roll-out programme and the easing of restriction, over the medium-term landlords will be able to recover lost income from rent arrears. Abdul Tantouch, Research Analyst at AMA Research comments “other than the negative impact of Covid-19 on planned maintenance expenditure by social housing providers, since 2018 the key issue within the social housing RMI sector has been the high level of investment in fire remediation works in the wake of the Hackitt report into the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Estimates of the final costs of removing unsafe cladding and implementing other fire safety measures range from £10bn up to £15bn. For many housing associations, fire safety works are continuing throughout 2021 and possibly into 2022. Over the longer term, the main driver for RMI growth is likely to be decarbonisation programmes, underpinned by the government’s commitment to the 2050 net zero carbon target.” Lockdowns, and other measures to limit the spread of the virus, have resulted in much RMI work being suspended due to the risk of maintenance staff being in close contact with people in their homes. While most landlords have been able to maintain emergency repair services, planned maintenance/improvement works have had to be suspended. Over the next year or two growth is expected to resume, mainly underpinned by ongoing fire remediation works. Over the next couple of decades, decarbonising social housing stock is expected to be the key growth driver.

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LAB TECHNICIAN CRISIS TECH SKILLS SHORTAGE WILL HAVE HUGE IMPACT ON THE UK’S  COVID LAB TESTING CAPABILITY & FUTURE RESILIENCE

The CEO of a British technology training firm and tech think tank has warned of a looming crisis facing UK laboratories – in particular those at the forefront of Covid-19 testing – due to a massive shortage of qualified and skilled lab technicians.    Andy Lord, CEO of Manchester head-quartered Credersi, a tech talent training incubator and think tank producing the data scientists, lab technicians and software specialists of tomorrow, believes the skills shortage could severely impact Covid testing laboratories – many of which are already at capacity and struggling to keep up with demand – in a matter of months.    His comments come hot on the heels of the Prime Minister’s announcement last week, in which he set out plans to “cement the UK’s place as a science superpower”.    Andy Lord, CEO of Credersi, said. “At the moment, there are simply not enough trained and skilled lab technicians and quality assurance (QA) technicians across the UK. This is a particularly acute problem within the Covid testing laboratory sector, which is struggling to keep up with the increasing demands on the testing system.  Laboratories are understaffed and some are at crisis point; they simply cannot get enough lab technicians and QAs through the doors and into key roles.     “As lockdown restrictions are lifted in areas such as travel, the level of Covid testing will begin to rise rapidly. At the same time, if we continue to have further variant outbreaks, this will put even greater pressure and strain on the testing system. This will put the laboratories under severe pressure and ultimately into a crisis situation.    “This will result in test delays and a backlog in Covid tests being processed. The laboratories are a huge part of the UK’s armoury in tackling Covid, both with testing and vaccinations.    “The Government and the Prime Minister need to commit funding from the new Office for Science & Technology Strategy and light the fuses of the tech training providers in the private sector to make technology accessible to all.    “But most importantly, they need to allow the private sector to run with the baton and innovate a new generation of tech and lab-based talent, including data scientists.”    As UK plc. navigates the unchartered waters of post Brexit, Andy Lord believes it is absolutely vital that we not only train an entire army of lab technicians, data scientists, and software devs and testers to lead UK plc., but ensure that the training they receive is fit for purpose, built by business for business and world-class.     Credersi is not only developing future lab technicians, coders, testers and data scientists, but it is also doing it in a unique, immersive way using VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) technologies as a tech first in training campuses. It is converging and disrupting science and technology to make something truly unique.       Credersi uses some of the best-in-class industry experts as lead instructors, all of whom are skilled practitioners in the subject matters that they teach.     This enables the “talent of the future” to gain fluency and capability across many platforms with real-world simulations and exercises.  The company also collaborates with leading professionals and industry experts through workshops, commercial client projects and industry think tanks.    Credersi also plans to announce details of its think tank forum, through which it aims to bring experts from the worlds of science, data, technology, software and data analytics together to spark new ideas on disruptive technology and establish how Credersi can deliver that in unique tailored training programs for its tech talent incubator.    Darren Coomer, an industry leading CIO & Founder of the tech and digital consulting firm The Strategy & Architecture (S&A) Group is co-founder and tech angel behind Credersi. He adds:   “Manchester is the second fastest growing tech hub in Europe. We believe that, through establishing Credersi here, we can leverage the culture this great city has to help train and inspire the next generation of innovators, technicians, scientists and engineers that our economy, and indeed the world, is crying out for.  If anything, Boris Johnson needs to provide even greater funding for the tech sector in places like Manchester, which is the tech powerhouse and future for UK plc. Manchester was an innovator in the industrial revolution and today it is doing the same, leading tech hub innovation alongside London on the global stage.     “What we are doing with Credersi is not only disrupting education through our innovative training methods and technologies, but also converging curriculums such as science and tech to really meet the needs of individuals and industry. Our purpose is to train, inspire, incubate, develop and nurture, through our career alumni, some of the greatest minds and talents of the future. Alan Turing had long and established links with Manchester and the university, and we are looking to incubate and develop the Turings of the future; the code-breakers, vaccine developers, biological and cyber defenders, programmers and data scientists that can walk in his footsteps.”    CEO Andy Lord added:    “The more serious longer term issue is not just in providing the training and qualifications, but the innovation behind the tech training courses. More and more lab technicians, for example, will need to bolt on other complimentary skill sets, such as data analytics in lab testing. So, what you will get in effect is a lab technician who is also trained and qualified in key tech skills such as data analytics. This then expands the capability offering of a lab technician who can not only do lab-based testing, but also extrapolate the data sets, investigate and conclude the results.    “By devising immersive training courses in tech, science and data analytics, we are also designing those courses, so they are ‘fit for industry’ and in sync with the actual needs and requirements of companies in this new, post-covid era, as opposed to giving them an irrelevant, outdated, off-the-shelf training package.”     Janet Morris NED and former Director of Cambridge International Education – part of Cambridge University – which provides education programmes to over 10,000 schools around

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CONSTRUCTION SECTOR NEEDS TO MAINTAIN NEW TECHNIQUES ADOPTED IN PANDEMIC TO ENSURE IMPROVEMENTS, SAYS STEPNELL BOSS

The UK construction sector was heavily impacted by the disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Tactics, which were speedily adopted by the industry to keep sites open, will no doubt continue post pandemic. TOM WAKEFORD, joint managing director of 154-year-old family firm Stepnell, which operates throughout central and southern England, says the industry needs to work collaboratively to keep the recovery juggernaut on track. “’Build, build, build!’ was the rallying cry last June. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new deal to put infrastructure at the heart of the government’s economic growth strategy. Johnson said he was committed to build, build, build – in order to fix not just problems created by the pandemic, but issues that the UK had experienced for three decades. “Johnson said he was committed to building new homes, fixing the NHS and tackling the skills crisis – as well as mending the gap in opportunity, productivity and connectivity between the regions of the UK. All the time, the construction industry needed to build back better, greener and faster. “Seen by many then as the industry to help lift the UK out of economic gloom, construction is vitally important to the UK’s recovery. In December, the government issued its Construction Playbook – a blueprint of how the government saw local authorities working more closely with the construction sector. It came at the right time and is being adopted by thousands of organisations across the UK – Stepnell included. “Looking back to March 2020, COVID-19’s impact was immediate. Within a few days of lockdown, remote working was the norm. For some contractors, work on site stopped overnight – and the construction sector stood blinking as companies took in the huge catastrophe before them. “But, despite not being able to assess the future, the construction sector did what it always did – rolled up its sleeves and got on with the job in hand. Projects usually delivered from the board room were now being designed in people’s living rooms and kitchens, which meant contractors looked for new ways of working to ensure projects kept on track. “Alongside government support through furlough and other initiatives, there was stronger collaboration among contractors, supply chain and agencies. This unity meant a camaraderie and a strong sense of everyone having their part to play to achieve the common goal of delivering projects and keeping sites open. “Many contractors, including Stepnell, continued to work on site – and very quickly adapted to new ways of working to ensure colleagues’ safety. “By their very nature, contractors are agile, with their number one role being a problem solver for clients. This agility enabled us to swiftly adjust to solve a very different set of problems during lockdown one in 2020. As an industry, we moved at speed to meet clients’ expectations and we worked closely with clients to manage risk, ensure project delivery and overcome the many hurdles COVID-19 presented together. With our clients, we focused not just on project delivery, but also health and safety and wellbeing. “We also turned to managing our projects in an even more innovative way – using digital technologies and closely looking at new ways of working in order to achieve the results we needed. As well as taking a ‘partnership’ approach with clients, we also worked even closer with our supply chains. Again, working in partnership with supply chain partners, we were able to pay suppliers as early as possible and work together to achieve the results we collectively needed. “Stepnell had a flexible supply chain, which could also adapt quickly to demand. This, like many other factors we have adopted because of the pandemic, will be in place post-pandemic. The ‘not just for COVID’ approach means that the industry will continue to look at new technologies such as cloud working. The industry was way behind in terms of new technologies prior to COVID-19 – one of the positive things to come out of the pandemic for me is to see how crucial we view technology in the long term. “And of course, the pandemic has highlighted an issue that has been present in the construction industry for years – colleague wellbeing. Before the pandemic, the industry already had above average rates of divorce and suicide. Colleague mental health is something which became even more of an issue in 2020 – and will no doubt need to remain a focus for the industry once the worst of the pandemic is over. “On a positive note, the industry could potentially use the recent changes to ways of working to diversify its workforce. The pandemic has plunged the industry into the quickest and deepest possible experiment in flexible working — which has proved to be a success. “Not only that, but the construction industry was in the news during the first part of lockdown – not always for the right reasons as the public could see working sites when others had to stay away from workplaces. But the news pages highlighted construction and the way it was adapting, as well as new technologies. Construction companies’ ability to adapt to these changes, and so quickly, could make the industry more accessible and attractive to a wider talent pool – including young people. “Another key factor I see is the real importance of social value. Something that may have been seen as an exercise to tick boxes and score points against competitors pre-pandemic has been brought to the forefront during COVID-19 to show the genuine benefit to communities which our construction projects can bring. Whether that’s sandwiches for construction workers from a local café which has been closed for months or CSR projects to engage with local schools, which were also forced to lock their doors. “Continuing to bring young people into the industry is crucial. Stepnell has 14% of our workforce as trainees and apprentices – we see opportunities to give young people (an age bracket affected by the pandemic like no other) a great opportunity in a fantastic rewarding

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How COVID Has Affected Health and Safety in Trade

As the UK begins its exit from lockdown, the trade industry can look to slowly relax its Covid restrictions. Life-critical health and safety product provider, Reece Safety looked at how the pandemic has changed health and safety across the trade industry, and whether the stricter elements brought about by the pandemic are here to stay. The trade sector stayed open throughout most of lockdown Many trade businesses and work sites were open across the second lockdown while the rest of the country stayed home, meaning many trades workers across construction sites, factories and manufacturing plants worked in additional PPE, with sanitising stations, and enforced social distancing measures in place to meet demand as essential workers. In addition to existing health and safety procedures, Covid-19 saw new regulations brought in to protect industry workers. Construction was most significantly affected Research found that the construction sector has been significantly affected by Covid‐19, as there has been a potential knowledge gap regarding the practical feasibility of applying Covid‐19 measures within construction, made more difficult by factors such as the types of projects and complex working environments. In the UK, the construction industry is worth over £100bn and employs over 2.4 million people, with the immense sector adjusting to new ways of working. Throughout the pandemic, it has been hit hard by both stricter safety precautions and higher rates of infection due to an ageing workforce, with over 40% of workers over 40 years old, and a significant number of over 55-years-old1. This means that the construction sector had a slower rate of productivity and profitability throughout the pandemic due to illness. Self-employed tradespeople were also affected Covid not only affected the workforce for larger businesses but has also had a direct impact on self-employed tradespeople. Gareth, a joiner from Sheffield, explained how new health and safety measures have affected his business: “Covid health and safety measures have made working more complicated, with more measures to consider for each job. However, it is important for everyone to remain cautious and stick to the implemented safety measures as I spend much of my time in people’s homes, so it is vital to ensure correct PPE is worn, the household is Covid-free, and I am safe from risk of transmission while working. Post-Covid, I am sure that much of the public will remain cautious for a long time, ensuring that the spread continues to slow, which means tradespeople like myself can continue to feel safer.” Many businesses struggled to maintain staff training As rigorous health and safety procedures came into action for the trade sector to enable workers to continue working, many important parts of the job, such as upskilling and training staff, took a back seat. Managing Director of Reece Safety, Andy Graham, explains why he thinks some elements of health and safety introduced throughout the pandemic are likely here to stay: “We noticed that many businesses struggled throughout the pandemic to upkeep training for new staff and deliver refresher training to existing staff as trade sector businesses shifted their focus to ensuring staff safety and welfare. “To accommodate, we introduced “live stream” virtual training sessions and socially distanced learning environments to ensure that businesses can keep up with necessary health and safety training for their staff, with offerings such as confined space supervisory training and lockout tagout training. As things go back to normal, we are sure that flexible ways of training will allow businesses to train their staff in a much easier way.” For more information on life-critical safety products to keep your business and staff safe, visit: https://www.reecesafety.co.uk/ 1 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hfm.20882

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