Joe Johnson has been taken on by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association as director of training. He talks to Alasdair Reisner about achieving a fully carded workforce and his plans for management training.
Before joining CECA you worked for maintenance outfit Ringway and before that for the Royal Navy.
How did these roles prepare you for this position?
Being a Navy training manager taught me how to run a training department. I then took that to Ringway and picked up some civil engineering knowledge. CECA has never had someone who looks after training. I can come in as someone who has done the job and so knows the issues for contractors.
Why was your job created?
The job came about due to the changing needs of the CECA members. Essentially they do not always have the ability to keep an eye on all the issues and initiatives in training being created by the Government, CITB ConstructionSkills, CSCS, the DfES and the great and the good at the various institutions. My job is to keep tabs on what is going on and keep the membership aware of how it will affect their business.
What do these issues include?
One of the biggest things we are pushing on is getting a fully carded workforce by 2007.
We need to let the membership know how far they have to go.
We need to keep coming up with new ways to jog it along.
We are starting to see indicators that it has stalled at 75 per cent carded. My role is to see what else we can do. I need to identify what the blockages are and then go back to CSCS to get rid of them.
What problems have you found so far?
There are too many cards, which means the whole system is confusing and bureaucratic. There also are not enough NVQ assessors qualified to test people as they go through their training, so we need to attract people to do that.
There are even some areas of civil engineering that don't have appropriate NVQs to get them carded in the first place.
What else can you do to push forward towards a fully qualified workforce?
We need to see cl ients take on the CSCS message and there is no bigger client than the Government. When any Government tender goes out it should demand that anyone bidding has a fully carded workforce. If they did that it would force people to ensure their workforce was properly trained. Everyone agrees with the sentiment but we need to see it put into practice.
What else are you doing for the members of CECA?
Often the larger members have their own in-house training department but our small and medium-sized members might not. So I'm trying to get into the SMEs. From talking to them they would like a motivational management package. You can get a package like this for industry generally but there is nothing specific to civil engineering. Our membership would be keen to see us set such a package up, including some training courses.