REPORT FROM VICE-PRESIDENT, JAYNE HALL
As we enter the New Year it is traditional to reflect on what has passed and to look forward to what the coming year holds. In nautical terms it is comparable to logging the journey and plotting the course ahead. Steering a ship effectively requires skills gained through training and experience. An expert helmsman has a keen sense of how a particular ship will respond to the helm or how different sea conditions impact steering.
This time last year CABE then CEO, John Hooper, announced that the time had come for him to step down from command and pass the tiller to a new helmsman. Gavin Dunn’s Vice-President’s Report in the January 2017 edition of Building Engineer set out CABE’s five-year vision plan and objectives – with the focus on Governance and Standards; Profile and Influence; Operational Excellence, and Resources and Digital. Gavin acknowledged the tremendous progress the Association achieved under John’s captaincy, including the Royal Charter and laying the groundwork for becoming a Licensed Member of the Engineering Council – without a doubt the most significant achievement for CABE in 2018. All eligible members may now enhance their membership with Chartered Engineer status and all of us have the opportunity to work towards this prestigious designation if we so wish.
Our industry faces many challenges into the future – from population growth and homelessness, climate change and environmental sustainability, wars and conflict, and the global economy, poor productivity and profitability and skilled labour shortages. Other issues of concern are technological change, design complexities, project performance, risk management, contractual relationships, dispute resolution, fraud and ethics and, in the UK, the fallout from Brexit.
I believe that CABE has strengthened its position and influence over the past twelve months. Enquiries to join CABE have grown and the Association continues to develop new Chapters in different countries, and this international recognition benefits all members in the UK and abroad.
As I write, we are awaiting the ministerial statement on the Hackitt report on Building Regulations and Fire Safety, but in a political world dominated by Brexit, it is no surprise that the events of Grenfell have slipped from the headlines. Whilst there remains uncertainty about what the Government reaction might be, there is potential for division amongst industry sectors as we anticipate a significant impact on the construction industry.
The outcome could lead to new Building Regulations – already we have seen an amendment from 21 December 2018, banning the use of combustible cladding in the external walls of residential buildings over 18m high. Fire safety procedures and responsibilities at design, during construction and afterwards, will likely be tightened up and Dame Judith Hackitt’s recommendations for allocation of supervising responsibilities has caused much debate in the Building Control arena. Accusations of the ‘race to the bottom’ have stung and I would implore our members in this sector to rise above the petty bickering and backstabbing and finger pointing that can so easily distract from the key issue. The most important lesson to learn is that safety must be the prime consideration and the opportunity is in all our hands to make changes for the better across the whole construction industry. One way to do this is by collaboration – pooling talent, expertise and resources – ensuring we are fit for the future.
During 2018 I have felt privileged to represent my fellow members on behalf of CABE at various industry events. At a recent reception to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Construction Industry Council – CIC@30 – four young people told us of their experiences working in construction and set out their hopes and visions for the future. I am sure I was not alone in listening with concern at the account of a young man with a promising future career in site management, who felt driven out of the industry because of its ‘macho’ culture.
In taking on the challenge of Diversity Champion my eyes have been opened to how far the industry has come in terms of equal opportunities, yet also how there is so much more to be achieved, not only in attracting the cream of the crop, but also retaining the skills, and knowledge of experienced practitioners and encouraging those who have left the industry to return.
CABE members are already a diverse community in terms of technical specialities and practical expertise with a wide specialism base, including Designers, Building Control Surveyors, Fire Engineers and Structural Engineers. All CABE Members are required to follow the codes of professional conduct as well as being competent in their discipline.
Our membership is forward thinking and positive, as can be evidenced by attendance at regional and national conferences, uptake of CPD events and engagement with member surveys. We must stride proactively forward into 2019, united by high standards, strong ethics, professional competence, conduct and accountability and CABE members can be assured of the support of their Association.
With the change of leadership Gavin has brought vitality, enthusiasm and new ideas to the mix, without deviating off-course. On a personal note, I consider myself very fortunate to be involved, as a board member and part of the presidential team, along with our President David Taylor and my fellow Vice-President Ant Burd, as we rise up to the challenges facing our industry and embrace new ways of working together and supporting each other.
On that note it remains only for me to wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year.
With all the very best for 2019,
Jayne Hall BSc (Hons) C.Build E VPCABE FCABE