Vice President's Page May 2019

1 May 2019

Vice President's Page May 2019 Image

Once more I have a page to fill with positive, uplifting and – I hope – interesting reflection on what has been happening in the CABE world! Of course, the annual elections have brought Stewart McArthur to the Presidential team, and I look forward to joining him in supporting Ant Burd as he takes up the reins from David Taylor this month.

David has been a splendid figurehead for CABE, standing as he has for two whole years. He has really shown outstanding commitment to the Association and its members. I feel exceptionally privileged to have worked alongside David on the Board and to have shared thoughts, ideas and inspiration about how the future might look.

We will also have two new recruits to the Board in Richard Flynn, a highly experienced Chartered Building Engineer, Chartered Environmentalist and registered surveyor and Jake Simpson, our youngest member to achieve Chartered status to date, who will bring a fresh and youthful perspective to the table.

April has been all about Brexit, and I have to say it is with a mixture of relief and frustration that I put the final edits to my copy as the news is just breaking of the EU agreement to extend our exit deadline date to 31 October...Halloween! After a seemingly endless succession of failed attempts by our Prime Minister to win MPs support for her exit plans, you really couldn’t make it up! I’m sure the tabloids will continue to have a field day with the headlines, whilst industry, the economy and the community remain in the limbo of more uncertainty for another six months.

It’s probably fair to say we’ve all had our fill of that particular subject for the time being, and so my thoughts are once more on Diversity and Inclusion, Professionalism, Competency and Wellbeing.

It’s been a whole year since I first put pen to paper (or rather finger to keyboard) to write on the subject of gender imbalance in our industry. I have certainly stimulated some interesting discussions and my eyes have been opened to a broader cross-section of viewpoints. Diversity goes well beyond my initial thoughts on inclusion for women across the built environment sectors and while this remains one of my key areas of interest, under-representation does not end there – the construction skills shortage and ageing demographic remain significant issues to be resolved and we need to build an ‘opportunities for all’ culture based on merit, with appropriate initiatives to support and empower our workforce.

It is easy to get weighed down by the things that are not so good, matters that obviously need to be addressed and uncertainties that hamper progression. But as an industry we really do make so much difference to the lives of millions of ordinary people…much of it by quietly working away in the background to improve the built environment.

As building engineers, designers, constructors and regulators we have a real and tangible impact on the wellbeing of our communities, but regrettably, the success stories rarely grab the headlines. The global media is much more excited by doom and gloom and tragedy and so it is these stories of things that go horribly wrong that colour the public perception of our industry. None of us will ever forget that fateful night almost two years ago when we could only watch helplessly in horror and disbelief as people lost their lives and homes in the Grenfell Fire.

Of course, we must be open and transparent when things do go wrong and take action to make amends and prevent future failures. The Grenfell enquiry will eventually provide us with some answers, but while we wait for the powers-that-be to decide what changes to implement, we can set our own standards and stimulate cultural change.

It is important that we take time to reflect on the good things that happen and acknowledge that there are organisations, projects, companies and individuals that do make a worthwhile difference. It is good to hear about those developments that have a positive impact, the processes that fall neatly into place and deliver the desired outcome. The quality projects that are delivered to spec on time, on budget. These are the bread-and-butter jobs. Many of you play an important role in these, quietly getting on with it without any fuss!

Since my first foray into what friends, colleagues and fellow professionals think about the diversity issues facing construction businesses, from the huge global corporations right down to small partnerships and sole traders, I have been honoured to have met some inspiring individuals. And by the time Building Engineer journal goes to press I will have represented CABE, participating on the judging panel for the 2019 Inspire Awards. It will be an honour for me to be given a glimpse into the wonderful projects and initiatives that celebrate diversity and inclusivity in the construction industry and built environment. I have also been invited to contribute to a discussion panel, representing CABE at the Inspire Summit on 05 June, on the topic of how can we attract a more diverse workforce for the future? / tackling the skills crisis through a more diverse workforce and implementing inclusive recruitment strategies.

As a Chartered professional association, representing a cross section of individuals and their businesses, CABE is setting the bar high for member conduct and ethics. Working hard on behalf of members, the management and board are ensuring that CABE is represented at the highest possible level, building enduring links with other construction industry bodies and ensuring the voice of our membership is heard; positioning ourselves so that we do have a say which may influence changes and rise up to the challenges that are ahead.

CABE has been involved in MHCLG-led discussions with industry stakeholders on how to win back public confidence through proving our competencies. Our technical director, Richard Harral, represents us on the MHCLG working group and he has been integral to developing a competency framework fit for the future.

This will feed into our updated membership routes and sit alongside the member code of conduct with the focus on four main themes, namely to:

  • act professionally at all times
  • manage risk responsibly
  • ensure your competency as a Building Engineer
  • act in a way that promotes sustainability.

The CABE management and staff and my colleagues on the Board recognise that the public expects no less and supporting members to maintain high standards and professional ethics is high on our agenda.

I am very proud to be a Fellow of CABE, working alongside some very well-respected colleagues, all genuinely committed to professionalism representing the very best practitioners. I hope that I can be a positive role model to inspire a new generation – irrespective of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, or disability – to consider a career in building engineering, to add value to our clients, protect the public interest and the environment now and into the future.

Wishing you all the best of health and wellbeing.


Jayne Hall BSc (Hons) C.Build E VPCABE FCABE


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