Construction Task Group minutes: 10 February 2023

Meeting details

Date: Friday 10 February 2023

Time: 9.30am to 11am

Location: Microsoft Teams

See the list of attendees and apologies for this meeting.

Actions arising from this meeting

Actions arising from this meeting
Number Action Detail Responsible/Lead
1 Hold the date for 5 July 2023 ALL
2 Apprenticeship Roadshow new date to be advised for July 2023 VPo/CB
3 Arrange meeting to look at District & Boroughs social value in procurement weightings and how these can be used by D&Bs. ESCC colleagues to support if needed. SM/AB (CB/SBu to support if needed)
4 Send jobs fair information to Skills East Sussex for Task Groups DWP reps

1. Welcome (new members)

SM welcomed new members. MB was attending the group for the first time as stakeholder lead covering the sector for the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP). Knightsbridge Property Services were at their first meeting. SSea advised the firm wishes to find out more about how they can help by increasing their social value offer and bring better quality candidates into the workforce.

SM said that the winter meetings will remain online for the time being but the two in the spring and summer will be face to face where possible.

2. Review of Previous Minutes & Actions

The minutes were agreed.

Actions 1, 3 and 5 have been completed. Regarding action 2 about a visit to the decarbonisation centre (OHM Energy/East Sussex College Group), SBu advised dates are being discussed. He added if others who have not been there wish to see it, to get in touch. Action 4 about practical demonstrations is covered at item 4 today. 

3. SES Board feedback

CB advised that the Skills East Sussex Board meeting heard about the activities of all the Task Groups. This included this one meeting at the decarbonisation centre and interest in green skills and the Teachers Encounters proposal. The meeting focused the cost of living and that East Sussex tends to lower rates of pay but higher living costs.

The meeting covered pre-employment and employment support programmes: Moving on Up, Support into Work, Transform and Multiply, the latter gives numeracy skills wrapped around ‘tickets to work’. CB suggested a one-sider or a web page (which can be updated quickly) on what is available may be produced to make this landscape easier to understand.

Skills levels for higher quality jobs was discussed. Quality part-time or flexible work is important, especially for those aged 50+ and/or with caring responsibilities. 

4. Teacher Encounters update

SBu introduced this item which links directly to the Construction Working Group 3 – ‘developing a curriculum for the future’ which met on 10 January. It also links to the other two working groups. Following a successful bid (thanks noted to WG of the Careers Hub who worked on this with SBu) to the Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC), an event for continuing professional development (CPD) will be held on 5 July 2023. The Curriculum Development group has agreed to be a steering group for FE Sussex. As FE Sussex members are the principals of the Further Education colleges they are better placed to link and co-ordinate.  Funding means that this event is aimed at East Sussex schools and colleges (the universities are separate to this) as the Careers Hub for the Coast to Capital area covers Brighton & Hove and West Sussex. Employers are welcome regardless of base. 

The event covers engineering as well as construction. Inspirational keynote speakers are to give insight into future gazing and positives coming to the sectors. Practical workshops will link to curriculum development. A pathways session will show the variety of entry routes and careers available.

For health and safety and risk assessment reasons, it makes sense for the event to be at a venue already set up for the practicals. The Hampden Park/Eastbourne campuses of ESCG are to be used.

The aim is to open the event up to job and career coaches as well as career leaders and advisers at schools. Curriculum leads, such as Design and Technology are also wanted there. The KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are for 30 educators and 15 employers to attend. Attendance is determined by completion of a survey at registration and post-event survey. CEC determine the content of the survey and how and when it is issued.

SBu asked about timing as 5 July has also been suggested for the Eastbourne apprenticeship roadshow – the CPD event would be 9am-2pm, with the roadshows from around 4pm-7pm. Was one day away from work more appealing? SM and SHa both advised separate days are preferable as active event participation can be extremely tiring.

Targetting the right people/teachers was raised as felt that often Careers Leaders attend but not faculty specific staff. The people speaking on certain topics need to be the most appropriate in their field, too.  CB advised when speaking with the Brighton University vice-chancellor the previous day (meeting on another matter) when this was mentioned, there was keenness that faculty leads go. NP said that messages have not got to him as yet (CB and SBu said that the date has only been confirmed in the last week), and it is good to let university schools know as soon as possible to avoid clashes with exam boards or leave.  The ‘built environment’ can be misunderstood. NP advised he will alert colleagues. The Dean of School is leaving shortly so this could impact communications.

SBu said that FE Sussex know what the colleges are planning. WG advised that Careers Hub CPD events are usually attended by schools Careers Leaders.

ACTION 1: Hold the date for 5 July 2023 – ALL

ACTION 2: Apprenticeship Roadshow new date to be advised – VPo/CB

5. Feedback on the Working Groups

MP gave an update on the most recent discussion the group had on 6 February. A key issue is the lack of a recruitment process for SMEs, and not thinking about recruitment early enough in the academic cycle – Spring instead of August and September. East Sussex is SME dominated.

Support is out there. Transform can give advice as well as support to recruit apprentices. A new CITB role (new entrant employer support) is being rolled out following a pilot. This is to help small and micro businesses through setting up digital accounts with the DfE and other recruitment activity.

Short-term thinking about not having the time to recruit needs to be addressed. It is not cost effective to turn down work or employ agency staff.  There may be lobbying work to be done around how the onus on the employer may have a negative on SMEs access to talent.  T Levels in design, planning and surveying feed well into degrees – what can be done to make them or the learners more work ready? CITB, in partnership with others is looking at how the Onsite Construction T Level can meet competency in practical skills given the reduced work experience compared to an apprenticeship.

MP advised barriers are recognised, and potential actions identified. The next meeting will hone in on one or two areas where we can provide support.

PW said that there is not enough training available for SMEs. The supply of training needs to be driven up.

SM advised that he has staff who help the college with electrical training. His firm takes on three apprentices a year. ‘It is in our best interest to support the colleges’ ‘they give us our future workforce’. Where this happens ‘gives a better outcome’.

DM fed back from the Changing Perceptions of the sector group which met on 20 January. The two strands of this group are ‘Investigating and reviewing the best methods of exciting the audience and raising interest when presenting the sector’ and ‘Standardising the careers advice and guidance that is provided to schools and other careers guidance staff.’

Work has started in these areas with the discussions on how to better present at events such as Jobs and Careers Fairs and the updated material available through the Careers Hub and Careers East Sussex website. The “I loved Minecraft, now I’m a structural engineer” strapline is probably the best of the campaign for SES’ six key sectors.

However, as well as being more engaging and interactive, the messages that are given need to be consistent about the industry of today and the future. If learners on stands are there because they ‘weren’t good at something else’, that may deter the sceptical parent confidence that construction and civil engineering may be routes for their academically able child to follow. Likewise, women and ethnic minorities will benefit from visible role models. The material made for the web can be used elsewhere. Getting video snippets into social media is a next step.

Ideally, research into current perceptions and measuring perception shift would take place. Resources do not allow for this at the time.  Greater construction employer numbers at events such as I-Can, the Apprenticeship Roadshows and graduation are wanted. We can also look into how CPD events open minds to other views of the sector, particularly around environmental issues. Visibility is key – the next generation are not likely to think about a career in an industry they do not see during school, work experience, employer visits, careers events and social media.

Discussion on employer engagement followed. SM and SHa both noted that far more social value weight in District & Borough procurement is given to apprenticeships than activities such as this Task Group. Not giving sufficient value does not help employer engagement on curriculum development, improving recruitment and raising awareness of the sector.

SM asked for the groups to report back final proposals for the August meeting. The working groups would wind down over the autumn in readiness for new groups to look at other areas of work.

ACTION 3: SM/AB to arrange meeting to look at D&B social value in procurement weightings and how these can be used by other district and borough councils. ESCC colleagues to support if needed.

6. Careers Hub update

Due to time, JC advised she was happy for this item to roll-over to the next meeting. Those wishing to know about Careers Hubs events or how to get involved in Open Doors, become an Industry Champion or Enterprise Adviser can contact the Careers Hub.

7. DWP Update

PH advised that the discussion had given him lots of ideas about more that can be done to support Construction. He outlined that following the pandemic and numerous new claimants to process and pay, that DWP is back to engaging with employers and customers face to face.  They are keen to move into more in-depth supportive mode.  These include more JobsFairs including for cohorts such as ex-offenders, older adults and the neuro diverse. They are raising awareness of funds to help pay for childcare costs and other aids to start employment.

At the mention of JobsFairs, DC advised that someone aged over 70 had attended a recent one aimed at older people. ER said these are badged ‘Your Experience Counts’, not ‘50plus’. A lot of ex-offenders tend to be on SWAPs (Sector Based Work Academy Programme) in any case.

PH continued that in East Sussex, there are only 0.3 jobs per claimant – in Surrey there are 10. Job hunting is a tough market, especially along the coast – Hastings, Newhaven and Eastbourne. The DWP place-based planning toolkit allows localities to look at sectors in need of support. They will also work on the three priority areas of Health and Disability, over 50s and in-work progression for those not earning enough. They will also work employers as there are myths about older workers, ex-offenders and those with disabilities that need busting or additional support given for people to succeed.

DWP itself will soon be recruiting more roles locally – employment and disability advisers. PH advised they have been in touch with more than 600 employers about forthcoming jobs fairs.

A number present expressed not being aware of jobs fairs. SHa suggested sending information to procurement who could then cascade to contractors, and sub-contractor could also be contacted.

ACTION 4: Send jobs fair information to Skills East Sussex for Task Groups – DWP

8. AOB/Date of Next Meeting

Next meeting is scheduled for 9.30-11am on Tuesday 16th May. County Hall committee room is unavailable, so a host is wanted.

MB advised she is a Transform adviser as well as LSIP lead and happy to be contacted by group members.

MP gave an update that Brighton Met will be doing the T Level in Design, Planning and Surveying from September 2023. This may be an attractive option for those in the north and west of East Sussex.

AB asked if others had experiences of apprentices leaving for higher pay elsewhere rather than complete the apprenticeship. Others advised that this is not unusual, and likely to be exacerbated now by family immediate needs and cost of living pressures. If the salary can be matched, they may stay.

Attendees and apologies


  • SM, Scott Monk, GM Monk Limited - Chair
  • AB, Adam Bennett [part], Wealden District Council, East Sussex Procurement Hub, Procurement Business Partner

  • CB, Caroline Bragg, ESCC, Employability and Skills Strategy Manager

  • MB, Melanie Butcher, LSIP, Stakeholder lead for Construction, Engineering and Manufacturing

  • GC, George Chapman, Rother District Council, Construction Skills Coordinator
  • DC, Dermot Clarke, DWP, Employer Adviser Eastbourne
  • JC, Jennie Cole [part], East Sussex Careers Hub, Enterprise Co-ordinator
  • WG, Wendy Gorham, East Sussex Careers Hub, Employability and Skills Lead
  • PH, Piers Harrison, DWP, Customer Service Leader, Eastbourne, Lewes and Newhaven
  • SaH, Sarra Hawes [part], Director, Hawes Construction
  • StH, Steve Hayman, Cheesmur, Director
  • PJ, Paul Jennings, Morgan Sindall, Social Value Manager
  • CMc, Celine McGeown, CITB
  • NP, Noel Painting, University of Brighton, Senior Lecturer School of Architecture, Technology and Engineering
  • MP, Marc Pope, CITB, Engagement Advisor – East Sussex
  • VPo, Vanessa Potter, SCTP, Executive Director
  • MePo, Melanie Powell, Rother District Council, Regeneration
  • SR, Shirley Ratcliffe, CITB
  • ER, Elaine Remon, ESCG, Employability Operations Manager
  • StSea, Stewart Seaman, KPS Ltd
  • SS, Steve Sefton, University of Brighton, Business Development Adviser Technical Education and Apprentices Hub
  • PW, Paul Wright, TRAC, Director


  • SBu, Stephen Burkes, Employability and Skills Project Manager, ESCC
  • DM, Donnalyn Morris, Project Officer,  Employability and Skills, ESCC


  • MA, Michele Agostini, Institute of Directors, Chair and Sussex Chamber of Commerce
  • KC, Kori Cox, ESCC, Employer Engagement Steps to Work
  • AG, Alex Green, DWP, Service Leader East Sussex
  • DH, Donna Harfield, ESCG, Vice-Principal - Business Development
  • WMc, Will McLaughlin, KPS Ltd, Managing Director
  • DO, David Oloke, University of Brighton, Head of Technical Education and Apprenticeships
  • ST, Sara Taylor, Lewes District & Eastbourne Borough Councils, Regeneration Officer
  • PV, Paul Vine, OHM Energy, Director
  • GR, Gill Ramsay, ESCG, Business Development
  • IR, Ian Roadnight, ESCC, Procurement
  • IW, Ian Whittle, Reed RESTART, Partnership Manager South Coast