Curtailing the role of the CCA

Don’t you think that with the findings in the Edge report and the recent curtailing of the role of Chief Construction Advisor that once again the Construction Industry has completely lost its way? Not that there aren’t enough to represent us – how can it be that for a sector that contributes so much to GDP there is so little effective high level influence and support.

Tim Platts Chair of BIM4SME

I have been in the industry now for 40 years, and in that time seen wholesale changes, many good and positive, but there is also a deep seated resistance and conservatism which always needs a good shake if we are to be prepared for the challenges that lay ahead.

Representation of ‘council’ members from the mighty of the industry may seem a good thing to do, but do these people really have time to dedicate, altruistically for the benefit of the industry as a whole? I personally appreciate the huge commitment of time and energy I need to put in to a small organisation like BIM4SME to gain ground on the things that need to be done, but running a multinational alongside the daunting responsibility of developing and supporting our industry does not sit at all well with me.

At BIM4SME we are all but too aware of the nature and composition of the supply chain which makes up some 80-90% of the actual work in design and construction/installation that gets carried out (most of which is home grown) and which gets engaged by the continental conglomerates that proliferate now in our industry.

We have seen wholesale consolidation in the industry with many names having disappeared or being swallowed up, leading to much reduced capacity and competition. The loss of the skills, heritage and commitment that this encompasses, is a very sad indictment of the current state of UK plc, and will lead to control and influence in the hands of a few. This ultimately is not healthy for the industry or those within it, and as we can the control now lies elsewhere. Whilst some might endorse the ‘Darwinist’ approach and sure new, lean and agile companies may well appear – they will likely come out of the same mould, their future determined by the conservative corporations. Comments are already being made about the lack of proper representation at high level, and it is simply appalling that the government schmoozes up to the big corporates once again, through ignorance or perhaps by design?

If we are really serious about developing a well-equipped and sustainable workforce, conversant with digital construction and ability to design,  do we really think that this can be left to vested interests or do we believe that a more representative voice and presence in the corridors of power is required?

Unlike the CEO of CIOB, I do not “welcome the shift from representation at government level” and whilst continued dialogue is always helpful and must be sustained we need to see a more cohesive and joined up approach across the various sectors of the industry, look what the BIM Task Group and the broader BIM community has achieved in this respect.

Even he recognises that leaders do not have time to ‘waste’ (invest (sic)?) and only ‘hopes’ that this will produce a focused outcome. Yes, we cannot rely purely on Government funding, and we don’t! Something we at BIM4SME are only too acutely aware of having received not a penny  in the 3 years of our existence.

Tony Burton has put this more adroitly in saying that “government has often asked for industry to speak with a single voice but it appears itself now to be working against that objective”, and I am afraid the relaunch of a website(Strategic Forum) will not cure much at all.

If people really need to see how much can be done through the passionate commitment of dedicated professionals and practitioners then I suggest they join one of our planning sessions* or BIMclinics ™, where bare creative ambition and a passion to drive change can be seen and tasted.

Take a look at our end of year report and in our own small way, see what a bunch of focused professionals can do and want to pursue for the genuine benefit of our ailing industry.

*indeed any of the BIM4 special interest groups

On the Edge Commission Report

The likely impact of Paul Morrell’s review of the professions, Collaboration for Change can be debated, however it has to take account of the potential influence exerted by the BIM Community.

Rob Garvey Core Group Member

BIM is proving to be significant catalyst for change. Whilst the BIM Task Group has been financed to promote BIM and has supported the development of a BIM community, when you scratch beneath the surface you find a collection of volunteers that have been brought together with a common purpose. That common purpose is the desire to work together, share good/best practice and encourage others to engage in an exciting and hopefully better way of working. Is this not what spawned the creation of our current institutions?

The BIM community includes the BIM 4 groups and the #UKBIMcrew. The BIM4SME group is focused on supporting SME organisations, from across the industry, to adopt and implement BIM. The BIM4SME group consists of individuals from the broad spectrum of the construction industry including the traditional professional institutions, contracting organisations within the supply chain as well as academia. It is truly pan-industry. Utilising the current technology, the members of the group are able to effectively and economically communicate with each other. Things happen and change is taking place, both within the individuals involved, but also the individuals that engage with the various initiatives.

Taking a step back and reflecting on what the BIM4SME is doing and achieving, it is clear that is aligns with the original aspirations of our current professional organisations. The BIM4SME group is flexible and willing to adopt whatever approach is appropriate to engage any SME organisation willing to engage with BIM. It has developed various materials to share knowledge and has embarked on a collaboration with the RICS to promote BIM for SME’s via the BIM4SMe awards. It is a not for profit, low cost operation that relies on the dedication of the collection of volunteers. It cannot be underestimated the power and value of willing volunteers.

Morrell’s timely review of the professions recognises the pressures for change and it’s appropriate that the institutions realise the dangers of not adapting. Change will be difficult without supporting from the governing institutions, however, it won’t stop it will just be by-passed. The institutions need to collaborate and support the progression of the industry.

What is evident from my involvement within the BIM community and specifically with the BIM4SME group is that it does not recognise the traditional siloed boundaries of the professions. Individuals from the broach spectrum of the built environment have similar aims and want to work together for the better; I would suggest we are seeing change happen and the desired change perceived by the institutions. Paul’s analogy of the Hanseatic League is relevant, “the more efficient competitors less pre-occupied with their own internal struggles” already exist and are forging ahead.

Rob Garvey for BIM4SMEs