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60 second interview - Master Builders put their Trust in Lister

NEWS

Geoff Lister, head of Leeds contractor GES, is the new National President of the Federation of Master Builders.

But the recent announcement of the departure of FMB director general Ian Davis has meant he is facing a major challenge within his first few weeks in the job.

How has your introduction to the presidency been affected by the departure of Mr Davis?

With Ian Davis leaving in November my first job will be to appoint his successor. My role will be to keep the unity together in the membership and the staff while we find a new director general.

What are you looking for in the new incumbent?

It has to be someone who is very similar to Ian. We are in the middle of our 2020 review.

We need someone who is able to look to the future to take that forward. On a personal basis, I am very disappointed that Ian is going. I was looking forward to working with him.

He has been part of the family as we are a close organisation.

We make a good team.

Does the right candidate have to come f rom the construction industry?

Some experience of the industry has to be a benefit but if we got the right person that didn't have that background that would be okay. They will build on the relationships Ian has formed. We are the voice of small and medium-sized construction businesses and look after their relations with the Government and training providers. I want to look after our membership because we cannot exist without them.

What does the FMB need to do in terms of the image of the industry?

We have a real standing in the industry, promoting the image of the master builder. We are linked to TrustMark. Our Masterbond warrantee scheme is the largest member of TrustMark, which was born out of Quality Mark. That wasn't successful; any compulsory scheme will not be successful.

This is voluntary and we have been promoted and supported by the FMB. Consumers are far more conscious of the issues through programmes like Rogue Traders. TrustMark is a good way for the industry to combat that. The public is aware of TrustMark but more needs to done before it becomes the rampant success the Government wants it to be.

Training is a key issue for your members. How well are their training needs being met?

We need the right training in the right place at the right time. I'm glad to say the image of the industry now is very positive. Youngsters can now see a bit of an improvement in wages and conditions. It has become a leading career choice for youngsters leaving school and their parents. But we need to fill the gap in skills. There needs to be more funding for further education colleges to take on the numbers that want to come into the industry.

3,000 youngsters were turned away by a college in Plymouth.

Across the country, colleges cannot cope with the demand.

Skilled jobs are available but they are being taken by people from the former Eastern bloc.

I have no criticism of overseas workers but isn't it a shame we cannot meet our own needs?