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Hansford: 'improve industry's image to attract world-class talent'

Chief government construction adviser Peter Hansford has told CN he wants to improve the industry’s image and unlock SME innovation as priorities in the role.

Mr Hansford said he thought improving the industry’s image was “hugely important” in attracting new recruits to replace talent lost in the recession, and in retaining world-class skills.

“I’m very keen to look at how we unlock innovation, what is it that’s preventing that innovation coming from some of the lower tiers of the industry, bringing in the supply chain, getting into our projects,” he said.

Mr Hansford took over as chief government construction adviser from Paul Morrell last year, having formerly been president of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

He said the hotly-anticipated government industrial strategy, due to be published in the summer, would look at how to improve the image of construction, and how to “establish a partnership” between government and industry.

“We’re looking at what the image we want to give to the industry is, what we want the image to be, and how we change that image.”

He added that the CBI and various parts of the Strategic Board for Construction were working on the strategy, and that the next task was to “bring all that together.”

The Industrial Strategy Advisory Council – which had its first meeting in January – was described as an attempt to “get a group of people who between them bring in experience from different parts of the industry, who can help with giving guidance.”

But he said it was “crazy” to think that the construction industry could speak to government with a single voice.

“It’s a wide industry with lots and lots of bodies, we couldn’t include everybody.”

“We’re trying to create a strategy we can all buy into – we’re not going to have a single voice for this industry, but what I hope we end up with is a more effective mechanism for communicating.”

Mr Hansford also denied that his civils background signaled a step-change in focus, and ruled out any new initiatives on savings, which are already in process from the Government Construction Strategy.

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