There is no item in your cart
Government recruitment and training policies will keep the requirements of the forthcoming Building Safety Bill firmly in mind, employment minister Mims Davies tells Neil Gerrard
Employment minister Mims Davies is keen to ensure the government upholds competence standards as her department launches measures to boost construction recruitment post-covid.
Davies, parliamentary under-secretary of state for employment at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), has overseen the £238m Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) scheme, launched in October, to help people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic back into work. The DWP has also launched the Kickstart programme aimed at creating thousands of fully subsidised roles for 16-24-year-olds starting out in their career.
And Davies reveals that she has been in discussions with housing minister Lord Greenhalgh and Health & Safety Executive chief executive Sarah Albon about competence.
She says: “We have got the Building Safety Bill coming up so it is really important that people understand what the bill does and the duty that it will place on everyone working on buildings so they are sure that the people they employ are sufficiently competent in those roles.
“There has been criticism that we haven’t got on with this quickly enough but part of it is making sure that we are listening to industry experts to develop the competence standards that can be adapted for the different sectors, buildings, and materials so that we have got a robust and consistent approach to assessing competence which will underpin the bill requirements. I am very involved in that as we start to progress this bill.
“The HSE are brilliant people to work with and have done a great job in helping people in the sector to be covid-safe and they are at the heart of this.”
Meanwhile, Davies hopes the JETS and Kickstart programmes will encourage more people to consider a career in the construction sector.
“In January this year, we were looking at completely different labour markets, but what we did know is there were some structural challenges and that we weren’t necessarily filling the vacancies and attracting people to particular sectors,” she says. “We know construction has an ageing workforce, and wanted more diversity, and that hasn’t changed.”
The JETS programme aims to attract 250,000 people from Job Centres into new, growing sectors in its first year, pairing them up with personal careers advisers. Meanwhile the sector-based work academy programme aims to offer prospective employees pre-employment training relevant to the needs of the sector, a work experience placement, and a guaranteed job interview. Davies hopes those who find themselves out of a job will use the scheme to discover how their skills could be applied to a different industry like construction.
She is “encouraged” to see several construction organisations have signed up to act as ‘gateways’ under the Kickstart scheme, including fit out trade body the FIS. Gateways will act on behalf of construction firms with fewer than 30 job placements and apply for a Kickstart scheme grant on their behalf.
“I want to make it clear we are not trying to cannibalise apprenticeships with Kickstart,” Davies says. “It offers opportunities to young people that might not have otherwise materialised. The early response is really encouraging and hopefully Kickstart, particularly in construction, will give young people an experience that will lead them onto a traineeship or an apprenticeship.”
Mims Davies CV
- July 2019: Appointed parliamentary under-secretary of state for employment at the Department for Work and Pensions.
- November 2018 – July 2019: Parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
- January 2018 – November 2019: Assistant government whip and parliamentary under-secretary of state for Wales.
- 2015: Elected as MP for Eastleigh.
- 2011-2015: Conservative Party town councillor for Haywards Heath Town Council and district councillor on Mid Sussex District Council for Haywards Heath Lucastes ward.
- Early career: Educated at Swansea University in politics and international relations. Worked as a local radio presenter, reporter and producer. Later worked as road safety communications officer with the Automobile Association, the police force and Sussex Safer Roads Partnership.