A new survey from the Chartered Institute of Building has suggested that many construction professionals feel that corruption is commonplace in the industry, with many being offered bribes or incentives during their time.
The survey used a sample of 700 construction professionals and aimed to investigate whether corruption is considered to be a problem in the UK, exactly what practices were considered "corrupt" and which areas were particularly susceptible to them. The sample included over 300 senior managers and directors, with more than one in three (35%) admitted to have being offered a bribe or incentive on at least one occasion. Nearly 38% had come across cartel activity at least once and of those, 29% have witnessed it within the last 12 months.
They placed the blame on squeezed tender margins and reduced workloads, which were resulting in pressuring professionals into corrupt practices in order to stay afloat.
The rest of the main statistics from the survey have been listed below:
- 49% of respondents believe corruption is common within the UK construction industry, just 2% fewer than the first survey published in 2006.
- Cultural (27%) and economic (23%) are cited as the main reasons for corruption.
- Cover pricing is seen to not be corrupt by 20% of respondents. Although, predominantly other adverse practices linked to the construction industry are seen to be corrupt (billing for unperformed work, collusion and cartel activity).
- 67% indicate that the use of gifts and corporate hospitality can be treated as bribery.
- 43% suggest that all the stages of the ‘construction process’ are susceptible to corruption. 35% specify that the pre-qualification and tendering phase is the most at risk.
- Over a third said they have encountered cartel activity in the UK construction industry. Of those, 29% said it was in the last 12 months.
- 35% of respondents have been offered a bribe or incentive on at least one occasion.
- 40% do not know if their company has a whistle-blowing policy. 54% indicated that they are aware and only 7% said that they have used it.
- Respondents acknowledge that the UK construction industry (50%) and the UK Government (55%) are not doing enough to prevent and tackle corruption.
Graham Hand, Coordinator of the UK Anti-Corruption Forum, said "This valuable report shows that despite the introduction of a tough new Bribery Act in 2010, corruption is still common in the construction business in this country.
"That is unacceptable. The law enforcement agencies need to work with the professional and business organisations to educate companies about their responsibilities, and they must act against companies that break the law."
CIOB Deputy Chief Executive Michael Brown added that measures such as the Bribery Act had a limited effect, with no prosecutions against businesses taking place. "If the UK is going to live up to its rhetoric of being tough on corruption, both the Government and industry must do more to show proof of progress," he remarked.
Via Construction Enquirer
The Construction Industry Training Board has issued a serious warning to the UK constructor sector, reminding them that it faces a skills "time bomb" if it fails to find new workers before potentially 400,000 people retire in the next five to ten years.
The new labour market research, published by the Office of National Statistics, breaks the information collected down into the following main points:
- 19% of UK construction workers aged 55+ (equivalent of 406,000 people) are set to retire in the next five to ten years
- 24% of workers aged 45-54 (518,000) will then subsequently be retiring in the next ten to twenty years
- 37% of the UK construction workforce is self-employed, and 23% (182,800) of those are also set to retire in five to ten years
With these huge numbers in mind, the research also noted which areas would be affected more than others. The East Midlands and South West would particularly suffer, with 22% of workers (that's 31,900 and 39,500 for each place respectively) set to leave. On the other hand Greater London, which holds the largest number of construction workers in the UK at 318,000 people, is estimated to not take the hit quite so hard. There only 12% (38,500) are expected to leave. Meanwhile in Scotland and Wales, the number is set to be similar to the total number of people retiring in the North East and South West of England - which is round about 56,000 people.
When you consider all of this, its unsurprising that UK construction was found to have a higher age profile than many other UK industries (19% are set to retire in comparison to the rest's 17%). To combat this, the CITB is encouraging employers to look at recruiting more and more young people, many of whom will have only just received their GCSE or A-Level results and be considering their next steps.
CITB Interim Chief Executive William Burton said: "Almost one in five workers are set to retire from the construction industry over the next five to ten years, so not taking action now to encourage young people to join the industry or invest in the training to up-skill our existing workforce, is no longer an option. The construction sector is essential for growth and, to avoid the similar skills crisis that affected the industry in the early 1990s, we urge employers to act now."
If you've just finished school and looking for a more physical alternative to office work or college/university, have you considered a career in the construction industry? With demand constantly growing for young skilled workers, you're unlikely to find yourself short of work and doing a job with plenty of variety. But first you'll need the right qualifications, which you can find on an Access Academies professional training course. At our state-of-the-art Cardiff training centre you can find bricklaying, plastering, carpentry and tiling training all under one roof, complete with experienced tutors and the qualifications you need to make it in the industry. To find out more and book your place just give our advisers a call on 0800 345 7492.
Construction sites across the UK will be open to the public for viewing this weekend as part of the UK Contractor's Group (UKCG)'s second Open Doors Weekend.
So far more than 3,000 people have signed up for the event, which takes place on Friday and Saturday. At the sites they will be given a closer look at what takes place on a building site, as well as learn of the things that go on behind the scenes. A wide range of different projects are open, including Hotel Football at Old Trafford, a Technology Centre where new contruction techniques are tested and one creating new lanes on the M25.
UKCG Director Stephen Ratcliffe said: "With Open Doors just a few days away we are pleased so many people are taking part.
"In particular, construction needs more young people entering our industry, and the weekend is an opportunity to tell the story of what a career in a modern and vibrant construction industry looks like.
"It is not about 'dirt and bricks', but an industry that is at the forefront of innovation, new technologies and creating iconic projects."
To find out more about the Open Doors Weekend and book your place, visit the official website at www.opendoorsweekend.co.uk.
Are you looking to switch careers and join the construction industry as a carpenter, bricklayer, plasterer, tiler or decorator? Not sure where you can get the qualifications to join this exciting, challenging and rewarding sector? An Access Academies training course could change your life. With the help of our expert teaching staff, you'll work through an intensive construction course that gets you the required qualifications to become a professional tradesman. To find out more, have a look at the courses pages on this website or contact us on 0800 345 7492.
Yesterday it was announced that the Welsh Government has issued new procurement guidance to allow public sector bodies to exclude contractors known to be using blacklists from bidding for contracts.
Welsh Finance Minister Jane Hutt said: "The use of blacklists is wholly unacceptable and I fully sympathise with the individuals and their families who have suffered a terrible injustice as a consequence of contractors engaging in this practice.
“Procurement is an important part of the overall policy toolkit of the Welsh Government. Under no circumstances is it acceptable for any business in receipt of public procurement expenditure to use blacklists. I am determined to take action in Wales. I trust that other Governments in the UK will take similar action if they have not already done so."
The ban will supposedly only cover firms found to be still operating blacklists. Contractors involved the construction trade’s infamous blacklist scandal will still be able to bid for Welsh work provided they have apologised publicly.
Andy Richards, secretary for Unite Wales, added: “The Welsh government’s action to rid Wales of the scourge of blacklisting by ensuring that those who practice blacklisting do not benefit from public contracts is to be commended.
We look forward to working with the Welsh government to put this policy into practice and urge other governments across the UK to follow suit in bringing in tougher laws to call time on blacklisting everywhere.”
Via Construction Enquirer
Today The Construction Enquirer have put up a news story concerning the outcome of a Bolton building firm's court case whose scaffolding was deemed to present a risk to the crew.
The firm, R Hamer Ltd, was prosecuted after a member of the public reported the work to the Health & Safety executive. Two workers had been spotted replacing guttering during high winds on what appeared to be unsafe scaffolding, and when an inspector arrive he found the men using two "badly-erected" towers with an unsecured board being used as walkway between them.
The court was told there was also no edge protection on the scaffolding, such as handrails or toe boards, and the workers were not using harnesses to prevent them being injured in a fall. One of the men was also seen climbing down the outside of the scaffolding rather than using an access ladder. The firm received a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £562 in prosecution costs, which is a rather leniant sentence for something that could have endangered lives.
This news story reminded me of a tweet I had seen earlier last week from @DIYDoctor, which I've shared below:
Falling from heights is one of the biggest causes of workplace death in the construction industry, and can easily be avoided by using safe and secure scaffolding. If you see a construction firm not taking the right precautions, you should report them to the HSE before an accident can happen. Likewise if you're doing a bit of exterior DIY don't think you can just get away with precariously balancing on the roof and a carefully laid out piece of wood like the man above. Otherwise that little job could end up costing you your life.
New Government figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government have shown an impressive surge in house building between April and June this year.
The statistics show that during this period there were a total of 29,510 new homes started - 6% highter than the previous quarter, and a third higher than the same time last year. Seasonally adjusted private enterprise completions increased by 11%.
This growth in the construction sector has been attribued to the wide range of government measures currently in play, which have also led to the hightest number of first-time buyers and lowest level of repossessions since 2007. These include;
- New housing supply at its highest level since 2008, with a total 334,000 new homes built in England over the past 3 years
- Over 150,000 new affordable homes built over the past 3 years thanks to the wide range of affordable housing programmes, including £19.5 billion of public and private investment over this Spending Review, and over £22 billion investment in the 3 years after that.
- Interest rates kept low thanks to government action to tackle the deficit inherited from the last administration.
- Over 10,000 reservations for newly-built homes in just the first 4 months of the government’s Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme.
- The Funding for Lending scheme, which has increased the availability of competitively priced mortgages.
Communities Minister Brandon Lewis said: "Under the last administration, housebuilding fell to its lowest peacetime rate since the 1920s. But today’s figures clearly show government action is bringing confidence back into the housing market and getting Britain building again, with starts increasing by a third year-on-year. We’ve already delivered over 330,000 new homes over the past 3 years, and 150,000 affordable homes. There is more to do, but today’s figures reinforce the momentum towards getting Britain building again."
Of course these houses are going to need a lot of work done of them before they're inhabitable, and this is where you come in. The market is going to need electricians, plumbers, gas engineers, bricklayers, plasterers, carpenters, tilers and decorators - and if you've every considered entering one of the trades, an Access Training course is all you need to do it. We get you the necessary qualifications to enter your chosen trade and start your journey to a career filled with success and variety. To find out more call us on 0800 345 7492 today.
The Construction Industry Training Board has warned that the industry needs to put more focus on the recruitment and training of young people, after recent statistics revealed some alarming facts about the average age of Britain's construction workforce.
According to the Office of National Statistics, 19% of UK construction workers are aged 55 and over. A further 24% (518,000 people) are aged between 45 and 54. They estimate that these statistics mean at least 406,000 people will need to be replaced over the next 10 years if the labour force is stay the same size.
CITB’s interim chief executive William Burton said: “Almost one in five workers is set to retire from the construction industry over the next 5-10 years, so not taking action now to encourage young people to join the industry – and investing in the training to up-skill our existing workforce – is no longer an option. The construction sector is essential for local and national economic growth and to avoid the similar skills crisis that affected the industry in the early 1990s, we urge employers to act now.”
While more young people undoubtedly need to be adopted into the industry, these age groups show that its also never too late to join the world of construction. You could be 18, 25, 35 or older and the choice to change careers into construction could still prove a refreshing and liberating experience. If you would like to find out more about how you can join thus rewarding line of work that's constantly on the lookout for new people, give Access Training a call. We provide a wide range of construction training courses for people of all ages and backgrounds, giving you the qualifications needed to enter at a professional level. Give us a call on 0800 345 7492 and we'll be happy to tell you more.
Source: The Construction Index
The British Safety Council has warned construction employers to take extra care with any young people they might hire over the summer, as statistics show workers are more likely to be the victim of workplace accidents within the first few months of a new job.
The BSC's chief executive Alex Botha says this risk can be greatly reduced with only a few simple steps, paying great sttention to health and safety practices and promoting safe behaviour in the workplace. Employers also need to establish what the risks are and use the knowledge of experienced staff to work out how to control them and to ensure that young people understand the safety training they are given.
"Vacation jobs are a great way for young people to earn money, get some experience and develop skills but we know they can be particularly vulnerable when they start work. There are many reasons for this: a general lack of work experience; unfamiliarity with the workplace, machinery or work processes; a lack of physical capability to do the job or the confidence to raise concerns; a failure of employers to provide the necessary training and familiarisation."
In addition to this, the BSC has included a page featuring tips on how to work with young people on its website.
Via Builder & Engineer Magazine
Proper health & safety knowledge is a vital part of working in the construction industry, as is having the right skillset to get the job done properly. If you're thinking of changing career and entering the construction trade and becoming a carpenter, bricklayer, plasterer, tiler or painter/decorator, have you got all the qualifications you need. At Access Training we offer a wide range of trades training courses to suit all needs, from ones for DIY enthusiasts right up to recognised City & Guilds qualifications. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.
The Construction Industry Scaffolders Record (CISRS) have announced the introduction of a new, mandatory training scheme for all new entrants to the industry, taking effect from September 1st 2013.
This one day course must be taken before a card will be issues, and will cover;
- Relevant regulations and codes of practice
- General responsibilities
- Basic scaffold terminology (components & application)
- Servicing of equipment, tube, fittings etc.
- Boards & stock – quality control
- Health, welfare, hygiene & housekeeping
- Electrical safety
- Fire prevention & control
- Noise & vibration
- Work at height
- Accident prevention & reporting
- Personal protective equipment
- Site transport safety (including loading & unloading)
- Equipment & tools
- Manual handling (Including a practical element)
- Lifting equipment using a rope & wheel
- Questions/test paper.
They will also be required to pass a CITB health, safety and environment test (or possess a recognised exception). Applicants are advised to apply for their card withing two years of their test date or it will expire.
CISRS scaffolding labourers will need to repeat this course every five years to renew their card. Existing cardholders will also be required to complete the course when their current card expires as part of a new CISRS scaffolding labourer refresher training scheme.
Via The Construction Index
Many people think that PVA is okay as a primer on walls and floors before tiling. This is not the case, as traditionally PVA is a multi-purpose product and not specifically formulated to work with tile adhesives.
First of all let’s think back, we all remember PVA – the glue you used in school to paint all over your hand, then see who could peel it back to get the biggest piece off! Peeled off easy? Washed off easy?
When you treat a surface with PVA it only partly soaks in and sits on the surface of the substrate much in the same way as wall paper paste. If PVA gets wet it becomes slightly live again, it doesn’t completely return to its liquid state but it becomes sticky.
When you spread tile adhesive onto a wall, the water in the adhesive makes the PVA live and stops the adhesive from penetrating the substrate and providing a mechanical grip. Basically your tiles, grout and adhesive are being held in place by a thin layer of PVA.
Tile adhesives work by crystallising when it sets. Once the adhesive starts to set crystals form and expand into any imperfections in the substrate (at a microscopic level) to create a grip. PVA stops this process by creating a barrier between the substrate and the tile adhesive. More...
Communities secretary Eric Pickles has announced that the Government is to increase its infrastructure investment by a massive £40 million, in the hopes that it will further attract new businesses and create thousands of local jobs.
At the time of announcement Eric Pickles said: "Enterprise zones are stimulating job creation and economic growth in different parts of the country with their special package of incentives to attractive new business ventures. The government is putting its money where its mouth is and making sure enterprise zones have the buildings and infrastructure they need to make sites ready for business to set up in."
Enterprise zones are areas which have been specifically targeted for economic growth. The polices surrounding them usually offer infrastructure incentives, tax concession and other reduced regulations in order to attract investors and private companies to them. Among the Enterprise zones shortlisted for this fund are areas in Birmingham, Tees Valley, Wirral Waters, Dover, Manchester, Sheffield and more.
Andy Rose, Chief Executive at the Homes and Communities Agency, which is administering the fund, said: "The response from the enterprise zones to this investment opportunity demonstrates just how crucial upfront infrastructure is to development. It is great news that this additional investment means more priority sites can be funded than first thought, creating more jobs in the areas that need them. We will now work with partners to refine the bids and ensure the investment is helping to maximise economic growth in local communities."
The full Government press release can be read HERE.
(Part 1 of this article can be viewed HERE)
Now that we know what causes brickwork to need re-pointing and how to prepare for it, it's time to look at the procedure itself for getting your brickwork back up to scratch!
You will require a hawk to carry the mortar, a pointing trowel and a soft brush
- Always start at the top of the walling to be pointed and work downwards to prevent dropped mortar marking the cleaned brickwork below.
- Make sure the joints are clear of any loose old mortar.
- Load the hawk with mortar flattened to about a 10mm thickness.
- Using your pointing trowel, pick up small amounts of mortar from the hawk and press firmly into the “perp” joints, (these are the vertical joints). Carefully fill each perp joint using a second filling if necessary.
- After filling the perp joints start on the bed joints (these are the horizontal joints)
- Carefully fill each bed joint with a second application if required.
- After completing an area of approximately one square meter, finish the mortar off with a pointing trowel. **
- Apply the mortar filling to the rest of the wall.
- When sufficiently dry, brush off with a fine brush to remove any excess mortar.
** At this stage there are a number of different finishes you could apply, however they require in-depth tutorial that can't be provided from this blog alone. If you would like to find out more, give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492 for information on our range of bricklaying and construction courses for DIY enthusiasts and professionals alike.
- Richard James