Payment, skills and energy are paramount, says ECA

On payment, the ECA is looking for effective legislation to ensure prompt and fair payment. ‘We are very encouraged that the previous administration recognised smaller businesses need comprehensive support on fair payment if they are to survive and thrive in a growing economy. We appreciate the government’s legislation – issued earlier this year – on prompt payment in the public sector supply chain, though it still needs fine tuning under the new administration if it is to help construction suppliers,’ said ECA’s director of external affairs, Paul Reeve. 
Reeve added, ‘But while we understand the government’s aim of using the ‘Prompt Payment Code’ to drive good payment practice, we urge them not to wait too long if the voluntary route fails to work. If voluntary Codes do not stimulate a major step change in industry-wide payment behaviour within a year, we ask government to be ready with prompt payment legislation right across the commercial and public sectors.’ 

The ECA’s director of employment and skills, Alex Meikle, called for a period of consolidation and stability on education and training policy. 
He said, ‘Under the previous government, skills provision in this country was the subject of a number of proposals for change. Prominent in this respect was the funding of apprenticeships which involved a fairly intense consultation with industry, but which appeared ultimately to be heading for a pragmatic and workable solution. I would hope that the new administration continues to build on these developments when drawing up its policy agenda; recognises that a “one-size-fits-all” approach to apprenticeships simply won’t work; and takes steps to protect and support those industries with a strong skills heritage and which rely on high level skilled apprenticeships as a means of renewing the skilled personnel required for the future.’

He continued, ‘I would also hope that the government will commit to making the NVQ Level 3 the recognised qualification for all highly skilled craft apprenticeships, such as that which applies in the electrical industry. It is crucial that standards are maintained and employers have stability when it comes to skills.’

On energy, the ECA is keen to work with the new government to help deliver clear direction and support for microgeneration in particular, along with electrical storage (for infrastructure, building and electric vehicles) and the development of a truly smart energy grid. ‘We need to push on towards a reliable “low to no carbon” energy future, said Reeve. ‘We ask the government to encourage innovation and a massive scale-up of smart renewable energy in the UK. Two ways to help implement the conservative manifesto on energy are to boost the practical installation of a local generation infrastructure, and help to bring new energy technologies to the fore. The sector also needs reliable policy and support, to give businesses confidence to deliver the energy solutions the country needs.’

CEO Steve Bratt concluded, ‘Our members are a significant part of the construction and engineering services sectors: we look forward to working with the new government, its departments and our industry partners, to deliver practical and economically sound solutions on payment, skills and energy, and across the wider engineering services agenda.’

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