With the drive to build a million homes by 2020 councils may be allowed to build starter homes on green belt. A government consultation has proposed changing the rules to enable councils to “allocate appropriate small-scale sites in the green belt specifically for starter homes”. In a bid for more affordable homes the Government have extended their shared ownership scheme, from April 2016, anybody earning below £80,000 in England (£90,000 in London) will be able to purchase a stake in a property. And Shelter are petitioning the government, as part of the Housing Bill, to commit to replacing any council homes sold. New analysis from specialist recruiter Randstad CPE warns that a million extra workers will be needed by 2020 to deliver homes at the necessary rate.

With skills shortages remaining topical the Home Builders Federation (HBF) and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) have launched a new £1 million scheme to train non-construction staff. Allowing sales and marketing or business development employees, like their construction counterparts, to get the required level of training to ensure the industry can deliver more, high quality homes. The ICE are to open a new exhibition and learning centre in 2016 at their London headquarters as part of ICE’s ‘Shaping the World‘ appeal, it is designed to help inspire the next generation of engineers and demonstrate the diverse range of engineering careers available to young people. And Eque2 have released a guide: Maintain profitability by managing fluctuating resource in the contracting industry. They also provide a Slideshare called Skills Shortages: What the Construction Industry looks like now and into 2020.

Earlier this month the Chancellor, in his Autumn Statement, unveiled the details for an apprenticeship levy. The levy will come into force from April 2017, with businesses contributing 0.5% of their total wage bill towards paying for on-the-job training. This though, calls into question the CITB levy. The Spending Review and Autumn Statement can be accessed here.

A newly formed Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy say alternative ways of getting into work – including apprenticeships and vocational qualifications – can often be neglected by careers advisers. The Committee will carry out an inquiry on how to improve careers advice in schools, this comes in advance of the publication of the Government’s careers strategy. At the other end of the career journey CIOB have released research Exploring the impact of the ageing population on the workforce and built environment. CIOB argue that retaining older workers is crucial to curbing the construction industry skills gap.

With many employers not having a full understanding of health risks in the construction sector, and seeing them as harder to manage than safety risks, a new guide has been issued providing guidelines for Occupational Health Risk Management In Construction. Card schemes are important in maintaining safety and standards in the construction sector, yet fraud in this area was highlighted in a recent Newsnight programme. Ian Sidney, Fraud Investigator at the CITB responds to this with his blog on how we must unite to tackle card fraud.

The construction press has reported on the Government restructure of the £2.9bn consultancy framework for a second time since the summer. CCS has now told bidders it will instead start the procurement on the basis of just seven lots, and has scrapped the regional element. This fuels concerns that the procurement process is excluding SMEs.

CEEQUAL are to merge with BREEAM, signally the creation of one sustainability standard for civil engineering and infrastructure projects in the UK and around the world. This as BREEAM celebrates 25 years. Liz Peace will lead and chair an independent group conducting a review of the community infrastructure levy. Written submissions would be appreciated by 24 December 2015, but will also be accepted up until 15 January 2016. RICS report that their Property Measurement Professional Statement has become mandatory. And 77 sites of coastal heritage are being helped through a new £3 million Coastal Revival Fund.

CIOB and ITN Production have produced a film entitled “Building Tomorrow”, examining today’s construction industry with a focus on the shifting trends that will take the industry forward into a more technologically advanced and digital era. Finally Engineering.com provide a look into the future, talking how we could use drones to complete repairs.

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