The question in the header is one often voiced through the regional meetings and with good cause.

While this may be controversial it’s not something we should ignore. As a great orator once voiced “That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy” [1]

With this country still tight in the grip of the deepest recession since the Second World War [2] and while there are many reports of quarterly growth what most companies are actually feeling is in reality the opposite. The Guardian reported in July; The UK double-dip was revised away – but GDP is still 4% below its peak. Using US criteria, the Great Recession in Britain would quite possibly not have been declared over in the first place [3].

This could explain why while there has been growth within the construction industry it is limited and with limited growth comes limited disposable income. Just to be clear, while there is growth, the contract prices are so low due to our years of ever reducing costs to remain competitive that it may take years for things to stabilise and for prices to rise.

Companies hoping to stay afloat in such austere times are required to take a more frugal approach to outgoings and one of the first things cut from the budget is training.  Whilst the decision to invest in training is a commercial one, it’s something that demands contemplation and not removal as part of a quick fix approach.

So, is training where we should be making our cuts?

No.

As professional companies we are required to prove our competencies when completing pre-qualification questionnaires or submitting our applications for whatever SSiP the clients insist we have.

Without training how can we prove such competency?

It is not a small part of the legislation that guides us in our working days. 16 out of the 121 pages (13%) of the Construction (design and management) regulations 2007 are on competency as is the entire annex-A of the British Standard 6187 (2011) code of practise for demolition. These documents have been carefully crafted to ensure that we, the professionals within the demolition industry are set apart from the fly-by-nights and cowboys and while it can be demoralising to see bad practise and incompetency within our industry, as this often impacts on the view taken on our industry as a whole. It should be acknowledged that not all non-federation members are not professional.  We as professionals must decide if our competent work force and our professionalism is a mere façade or is truly integrated in our company’s health and safety culture.

 GreekI end this with a quote from Archilochus a Greek poet and mercenary “We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training.”

Resources:

[1] President John F. Kennedy (speech given at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on April 27, 1961)

[2] Parliament.uk (http://www.parliament.uk)

[3] The Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2013/jul/19/uk-double-dip-recession-revised-gdp)

Courtesy of Mr Stephen McCann, AMIDE