Tim Melville-Ross was appointed this month as the new president of the Chartered Management Institute. The Bovis Homes chairman explains to Alasdair Reisner why the construction industry, like the rest of UK industry, needs more management training.
How has your previous career prepared you for your role at the CMI?
I suppose you have to go back to my first significant job, which was with British Petroleum. Their leadership and management development programme in the 1960s was very good. After a short and unpleasant time as a stockbroker in the 1970s, I spent 20 years at the Nationwide Building Society, the last 10 as chief executive. That gave me quite a lot of experience of leadership, and construction, too, because it was a big lender to the industry.
What do you want to achieve in your time at the CMI?
It is only one year, which means I have to work hard to make an impact. Fortunately we have the Leech Report, which will change the landscape for skills development.
I will use the momentum to promote the increase in the number of managers professionally qualified. Currently only 20 per cent at management level are qualified on suitable courses.
People feel if they have some other form of qualification they don't need a management qualification. Because there is such a shortage of people with management qualifications, firms have to promote unqualified people.
Isn't management ability something you either have or you don't?
Management is definitely something that can be taught.
I had to learn on the job. Had I done a CMI equivalent programme or MBA I might have avoided some of the early mistakes I must have made.
How does construction management compare to the rest of the UK economy?
It is difficult to differentiate between contractors but as an industry it is one of the few to have a real training board in CITB-ConstructionSkills, which is a significant plus. As a firm Bovis has a very extensive embedded management programme.
To a greater or lesser extent that seems to be common to most of the house builders, although I'm not sure about the main contractors.
How do you think management training will change following the Leech recommendations?
I think we may be surprised by the response. The first thing we need to do is make sure we are working on the right problem. Why is little being done to recognise the large amount of training and development work being done for a range of skills?
People are saying we are under-equipped for skills but we don't know that. There are thousands of people out there who have lots of training. It is just that their training hasn't been properly accredited.
Once you have identified what the problem is, we can start to take it more ser iously.
The supply of skills by training associations needs to be attuned to what employers want. The sector skills council are there for that. Some of them are doing it well, others less so.