Policymakers in Wales should face up to pressing challenges in order to help the nation’s construction sector fulfil its potential, according to industry leaders.
Mark Bodger, strategic director of Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) Cymru Wales, believes that further efforts should be made to capitalise on the industry’s optimistic outlook.
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Writing in a piece published by WalesOnline , he welcomed plans to set up a National Infrastructure Commission, suggesting it could be the catalyst which the wider sector needs.
Noting that the Welsh construction industry is full of potential, the expert said more young people are embarking on apprenticeships in the building trades, while the country’s infrastructure output is expected to expand in the future.
In light of these factors, Mr Bodger said steps should now be taken to address pressing challenges in the industry.
In his article, he writes that more certainty is required regarding major projects such as the Circuit of Wales, the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and the Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant.
The new infrastructure commission will also need to focus on skills development within the construction sector, Mr Bodger noted.
He stated: “Embedding a strong skills element from the outset in the commission will also be vital.
“For example the social and economic benefits to communities, from training and major construction projects like those named above would be huge.”
“This is because training the Welsh workforce – through apprenticeships, upskilling and attracting people back into construction – will reduce the skills gap and lead to a positive ripple effect across the Welsh economy.”
Boosting skills can offer wider social and economic benefits, he said, such as reducing existing levels of poverty, homelessness and unemployment.
The new commission should additionally focus on the subject of finance, according to Mr Bodger. He commented: “Securing long-term investment for the Welsh construction sector will be essential to provide the certainty that’s required to see the sector invest in its people.”
In conclusion, the expert said the formation of the National Infrastructure Commission should aim to provide an impetus which can drive the Welsh construction sector forwards.
Quoting Prime Minister David Cameron’s words, he said that rather than delaying decisions, it is now time to “get on with it.”