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7th Feb 2020

Talking Build Quality and Apprenticeships with the FMB & ITV Meridian

As part of an investigative report on build quality, apprenticeships and training standards, Barr Group Director, Stuart Barr, and FMB South Director, Phil Hodge, talk to ITV News Meridian (Feb broadcast date and time TBC - watch this space!)

Industry trends have shown a decline in the number of small to medium-sized building companies operating in the UK, a reduction of 80% over the last 25 years. The Federation of Master Builders have two clear concerns regarding the direct impact of this decline, namely the corresponding dip in apprentice training and issues around quality and volume of new build homes.

Build Quality

The Federation of Master Builders research found that homeowners are twice as likely to be satisfied with an SME-built home than a home built by one of the top 20 house builders.

The regulator attributes this to smaller companies competing on quality and reputation rather than volume which means they tend to deliver high-quality and well-designed homes.

 “Low Carbon Build should be a Standard”

Stuart Barr, Director of the Barr Group, says “There is rightly a lot of talk about sustainable build right now, due to heightened awareness of climate change issues. There is absolutely no excuse for not building well in this day and age. As in Wales, every new build should meet low-carbon standards as a minimum. At StuartBarr CDR we have always built sustainably, with every house insulated to a level where their carbon footprint is minimised. New homes need to be built to last and as such raising standards and sharing best practice across the industry is vital.

Training standards

In construction, small to medium-sized companies train two-thirds of all apprentices and the number of people starting on entry-level apprenticeships in construction dropping off in recent years. The FMB state that small to medium builders have been shown to be more likely to train apprentices in a broad range of skills to ensure that they can do all that’s needed on site. Possibly because smaller developers will have fewer tradespeople working for them than the larger developers and therefore need people who are versatile and experienced.

“Our apprentices are the future of our organisation”

Having been an apprentice employer for over a decade, Stuart agrees wholeheartedly that quality apprentice training which is of the essence. “The key to training apprentices is making them feel part of the team and ensuring that their contribution, right from the outset, is adding value. This helps the individual take ownership of their learning and enjoy the process. It takes a well organised training programme and a strong site mentor to help each apprentice thrive. An environment where learning is a positive experience and where making the occasional mistake is accepted as part of the learning process. All of the Barr Group directors and contracts managers started out as apprentices and as such the process is valued and respected right the way through the organisation.”

To hear more about the action being taken by the Federation of Master Builders regarding build quality and skills shortage in the industry and views of Barr Group director Stuart Barr tune in to the Feb Meridian news report.

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