Construction & Civil Engineering Task Group minutes: 22nd February 2024

Construction & Civil Engineering Task Group minutes: 22nd February 2024

Meeting details

Thursday 22nd February at 09:30-11:30

Location: ESCG/OHM Energy Green Skills Training Hub 3A Hampden Retail Park, Eastbourne BN23 6QU and MS Teams




Organisation, Role



Scott Monk - Chair

GM Monk, Managing Director (Chair)


Courtney Fraser-Bates

OHM Energy, Sales and Marketing Manager


Dermot Clarke

DWP Job Advisor


Elaine Remon

East Sussex College Group, Employability Operations Manager


Ian Whittle

Reed in Partnership Partnership Manager, South Coast


Jennie Cole

ESCC Careers Hub    Enterprise Co-ordinator


Geraldine Turton

University of Brighton, Apprenticeship Manager


Marc Pope

CITB Engagement Adviser, East Sussex


Sara Taylor

Regeneration Officer, Eastbourne Borough & Lewes District Councils


Steve Hayman




Ceri Turner

Balfour Beatty, Social Impact Manager


Cllr Jim Murray

Eastbourne Borough Council, Councillor


Michele Augousti 

Chair, Sussex Chamber of Commerce


Paul Jennings

Morgan Sindall



Caroline Bragg

ESCC, Employability & Skills Strategy Manager


Hannah Brookshaw

ESCC, Partnerships & Projects Manager


Karen Dobert

ESCC, Senior Business Administrator



James Bailey

Hailsham Roadways


Michele Chandler

Wilmott Dixon


Vanessa Potter

Sussex Council Training Providers (SCTP)

Actions arising from this meeting

Actions from 22nd February 2024 meeting



Due by

Action 1: CB to share email from Scott Monk with Ceri Turner to send to Balfour Beatty supply chain.


By end Feb.

Action 2: CB/HA to engage with the procurement team to include requirement to attend Construction task group.


By next meeting

Action 3: GR and Donna Harfield to provide a list of vocational courses that will no longer be available from Sept. and update on the agenda


Next meeting

Action 4: Retrofit Skills Strategy to be shared with the group


With the minutes

Action 5: Dates for the Apprenticeships Roadshows in June and July TBC and shared.


By next meeting

1. Welcome (new members)

Welcome, introductions and apologies.

2. Review of Previous Minutes & Actions – Scott Monk.

  1. a) Letter from SM to encourage employer engagement shared with networks/supply chain.
  • Task group meeting engagement is from a small, core number of employers.
  • CB to share email from Scott Monk with Ceri Turner to send to Balfour Beatty supply chain. CT noted the work of the employability and skills team was received positively by the supply chain network.
  • There is an opportunity through procurement to engage businesses. ESCC is due to go through the contract re-tender for its Construction framework – CB/HA to engage with the procurement team to weave into procurement specification.

Action 1: CB to share email from Scott Monk with Ceri Turner to send to supply chain.

Action 2: CB/HA to engage with the procurement team to include requirement to attend Construction task group.


  1. b) ALL to promote the T-Levels to networks/supply chain.
  • A number of Level 3 vocational courses, including electrical, are being defunded by government from September where there is an overlap with T-Levels. Students being asked to either find an apprenticeship or to go on to the T-Level.
  • T levels are much broader than the current vocational courses.
  • SM noted the current vocational courses don’t qualify students to become electricians, whereas apprenticeships do. Apprenticeships, particularly in electrical are already in high demand and very competitive for learners to access.
  • SM previously offered 2 weeks of work experience, but employers will struggle to provide the 45-day industry placement.
  • The group questioned which other construction-related vocational courses will no longer be offered, e.g. plumbing, carpentry, painting/decorating? Asked that East Sussex College provide a list for the next meeting.
  • CB noted that currently undertaking a piece of mapping work for Skills East Sussex to understand the impact of the defunding vocational courses in terms of learner numbers and on different sectors. This will be collated into a lobbying piece.

Action 3: GR and Donna Harfield to provide a list of vocational courses that will no longer be available from Sept and update on the agenda.

SM made special note of the Apprenticeship Graduation event in November – it was a very well presented and professional evening, and a great opportunity to celebrate their apprentices. This group should push for more construction employers to be at the 2024 event.

3. Careers Hub update - Jennie Cole

  • Industry Champions – over 200 volunteers signed up across different sectors. Receive a monthly event calendar with requests from schools, including fairs, speakers, interview skills etc. Volunteers choose the opportunity that suits them.
  • Open Doors – offering groups of students and teachers the opportunity to visit businesses.
  • ICan careers fair taking place on Monday 4 March at Kings Church, Eastbourne for Special Educational Need (SEND) young people. If any employers are interested in having a stand, please get in contact. There will also be workshops on throughout the day, including with Lewes Football club and Albion in the Community.
  • A new Employer standards framework is available – an online tool to assess how a business supports schools/young people and offers advice/guidance, tips and resources on how to improve.

For further information contact:

4. Working Groups update

  1. Retrofit strategy & partnership – chair Michael Courts

Michael Courts, chair of the subgroup, was unable to attend the meeting and so HB shared a presentation (attached with the minutes), including:

  • Background Public Health Retrofit Strategy and Partnership project
  • DESNZ Retrofit Skills Strategy update on 8 funded activities, with very short timeline to deliver phase 1 activities by April, due to delays in funding decision. Activities include careers hub campaigns, retrofit awareness campaign and resources with DWP/landlords and homeowners/Local Authorities and Housing Associations, free bitesize courses for the construction sector, including trades, licence to enable new retrofit courses, including L3 Heritage and Traditional building course.

SH – are logos required by all? HB confirmed the use of logos is not required by employers, only by project delivery partners on materials, such as leaflets.

SH – re Activity 6, with Level 3 courses going, is the Heritage and Traditional building course sustainable? ER confirmed yes as retrofit courses are aimed at upskilling employees not just for 16–18 year olds. SH – challenge of ageing workforce within specialist heritage work, not many investing in apprentices/ skills for the future.

DC – noted challenge of self-employed, small businesses willing to take on apprentices. HB asked what is the best way to engage with the sector to address forward planning? DC – persistent ongoing 121 engagement - time consuming but you have to keep visiting until they see the value of what you can offer. GT - high % of companies aren’t aware of apprenticeships and need support engaging. MP - recruitment process can be off putting for businesses.

SM – Noted small companies don’t make time for succession planning, mainly due to capacity/resources pressures or they are dealing with current business pressures.

IW - have you got idea in East Sussex of project job numbers needs for retrofit? HB – yes detailed in the strategy, which will be shared shortly. DC - Job seekers are aware of green agenda and the incoming growth.

CB – confirmed if there is a change of government, predicted there will still be a commitment to retrofit.

CllrJM – confirmed current Lewes North Street Quarter development is highly sustainable project, will need to train the people needed, only have 4% of what will be needed.

Action 4: Retrofit Skills Strategy to be shared with the group (with the minutes)

  1. Tutor recruitment & retention subgroup – chair Hannah Brookshaw

HB updated - group has met twice and is finalising a fact sheet for the sector on the suite of options for supporting teaching/training in colleges, everything from giving a 1 hour talk to how to train as a tutor. HB and MC discussing any potential grant or other support available through CITB to support this.

MC noted a business event to be run by Brighton & Hove Council and BACA to give an insight into tutoring while still working in the trade, taking place first week of March.

  1. Recruitment & changing perceptions of the sector – chair Marc Pope
  • Group ran a competition with East Sussex schools and colleges to design a flyer sharing the benefits of taking on an apprentice, and contacts for support and grants. Winning entry received £50 Amazon voucher, courtesy of the ESCC Employability and Skills team. Flyer sent out in National Apprenticeship Week.
  • Big Futures Show – Tuesday 23 April. CITB sponsoring and organising a Construction taster area (60 sq m) with support from 7 companies with interactive displays and activities, including Hailsham Roadways with a plant simulator, British Gypsum, Health & Safety demonstrations, Interactive displays and Architect/designer show case of software. MC will also have CITB materials. Previous years have seen 1800 young people attending over the course of the day.
  • Apprenticeships Roadshows in Hastings and Eastbourne in June/July, looking for construction representation.
  • Apprenticeship Graduation event in October 2024, plan to increase the number of construction employers and apprentices attending.

CT – noted that Nathan at CITB spoke to supply chain re projects coming up to engage in as part of monthly pulse calls, was well received.  Happy to link and attend events.

CF-B - happy to attend Big Futures and events with OHGM Energy and showcase retrofit.

CB – updated ESCC have continued to fund Transform, advice/support for businesses on accessing apprenticeships and to receive ESCC Levy transfer funding to incentivise to take on apprentices. Email for further information.

5. Skills East Sussex update: Future Skills research (discussion item)

CB – shared a presentation (attached with minutes) on Future Skills in East Sussex, focusing on the construction sector, including results from the East Sussex survey and national/global research. Each task group has been asked to consider the results, especially with respect to AI/automation and transition to net zero on their sector.


MP – for those not involved in retrofit, how do they know what it means? More information needed to explain. CB noted this is part of the Retrofit skills strategy – campaign and awareness raising.

MP – noted a data software company has reached out to CITB to run an event for businesses on how AI can help construction companies. Will share further information once initial discussion has taken place.

SH – AI has not had much impact so far. Exo-skeletons showcased to help with lifting 4-5 yrs ago but not seen in use yet. Noted wellbeing/ mental health of staff very important in this sector. A lot of work to be done to help companies understand you have to look after your staff. Impacts staff retention, better productivity.

DC - during Covid there was a substantial number of older workers that left their jobs, we are now seeing an increase in the number of people in their 70s wanting to return to work, citing cost of living crisis/boredom. The level of unskilled work is also increasing.

SM - employees need to accept that upskilling is necessary; and working to the requirements of business.

CF-B - AI has had a big impact already on efficiencies at OHM Energy, for example satellite mapping to help with quoting for size of roof panels, or in marketing/ communications, use of chatbot in telesales.

CT – raised example of candidate they received a job application from with additional learning needs, but highly motivated.  Their application was rejected through the AI/computer process. He then attended their Pathway careers event, intended on increasing diversity, and on meeting the candidate could quickly see they would be a valuable addition to the business. This has now been raised with senior managers to review how BB can adapt to not discount candidates through the automated recruitment process.

DC - attended the pathway event and commented how positive it was. They have just taken on an ex-offender, it was the first opportunity he’d had and raises a good point on increasing diversity by being aware of hidden market of high quality employees.

6. AOB/Items for next meeting

DC DWP jobs fair coming up at Uckfield Civic Hall in March, all welcome.

Ratton School, 7th March careers event – Free for students to attend, more schools signed up this year.

ER – flyers will be available soon for the free Retrofit Strategy training courses.

ST – EBC are running an event for businesses on retrofit in May/ June, dates TBC.

Action 5: Dates for the Apprenticeships Roadshows in June and July TBC and shared.


Next Meeting: Thursday 16 May 2024, 09.30 – 11.00, venue TBC.