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Supremo needed - no marketing experience necessary

So it is suggested we'll get a high-level civil servant to be a champion for construction - a Chief Construction Officer (CCO), says Ross Sturley

This was the recommendation of the BERR Committee that reported on it's inquiry into the industry recently.

This would be a 'good thing', according to the industry reaction. It's more practical, says Peter Luff, MP and chair of the Committee, to have a civil servant who can offer the industry continuity that a Minister cannot.

Certainly the revolving door policy in vogue this century for changing construction minister more often than I change my pants has provided a limited level of continuity. It is probably at least in part responsible for the poor public sector relationship with the industry that culminated in the OFT builder-bashing exercise earlier this year.

Plus it may offer a more coherent and unified structure to government policy than is possible with half a dozen ministers with little real industry understanding all having a finger in the construction pie without anyone speaking up for the whole sector.

So this CCO is a good thing? Probably, as long as they get some things done.

The BERR report says the CCO will mastermind a better public sector approach to procurement, improvements in health and safety, and a crackdown on bogus self-employment. And that to assist them in this, they will recruit a shed load more civil servants.

While these issues are important, the industries biggest problems at the moment are winning work and recruiting staff. Can a new army of civil servants help with this?

What the industry really needs is a Chief Construction Marketing Officer - someone who's job it is to make sure our industry is, and is seen to be, a world beater. We need to be able to win work all over the world so our companies can take over Spanish ones, rather than the other way round. We need young people to think of the sector as a good career.

And I don't mean we need some sort of communication spin merchant. We need someone to take a good look at our 'product' see how it meets clients present and future needs and wants - and do something about making it fit better. Egan did something in this line 10 years ago. We need to do it again. And quite possibly again and again. Then we'll need someone to tell the world.

So the CCO could be good but needs to have marketing as a main item on the agenda for meeting one and noone seems to be putting it there. Get ready for more red tape.

Ross Sturley is Principal of Chart Lane and a Member of the CIMCIG organising Committee