Construction Task Group minutes: 10 November 2022

Meeting details

Date: Thursday 10 November 2022

Time: 9am to 10.30am 

Location: OHM/ESCG Decarbonisation Training Centre BN23 6QU and  Microsoft Teams

See the list of attendees and apologies for this meeting.

Actions arising from this meeting
Number Description  Responsible/Lead
1 Circulate DH’s T-level progression information to the Task Group DM
2 Invite consultants as well as property and procurement to see the decarbonisation hub SBu/CB
3 Put trainees in touch with MRo and PV for green skills ALL applicable
4 Employers to get in touch with SBu and WG about practical demonstrations ALL employers
5 Arrange sub-group meeting before the next Construction Task Group in February 2023 DM/Sub-Group Chairs

1. Welcome, Introductions and Apologies

SM welcomed all to the meeting noting that it was good so many were able to make it in person. Thanks to MRo and PV for hosting, latter welcomed to the group.

2. Review of Previous Minutes and Actions

No comments on the minutes. Agreed as a true and accurate record.

Regarding action two, DH will be able to provide further apprenticeship information in the new year. T-level progression information can be shared.

SM advised that 95% of construction apprentices are with SMEs, concentrated in Hasting and Eastbourne. Transport is an issue for young people to work in Wealden and Lewes districts (firms around Hailsham). He is still checking with recruitment about the applicants for the apprenticeship roles at his own firm.

Other actions have been completed or are on-going. WG thanked everyone who has been involved in Open Doors and Industry Champion activities recently. 

3. The Green Training Hub (decarbonisation centre)

MRo said that the centre is now 80% complete. The meeting is being held in the main meeting space. The house built and designed by T-level students is behind as are solar panels. The kitchen area will be the relaxation area with study area computers nearby and another classroom which has solar photovoltaics (PV) control panels in it.

Commercial offers will run in earnest from 2023. East Sussex College Group are looking at options to manage back-office aspects, such as taking payments as this is a new venture. Training will include retrofitting PV and rainwater harvesting.

SBu said that visits are being arranged for East Sussex property and procurement professionals. StH advised that consultants should visit as well as they write the specifications. It’s important to get decarbonisation and energy efficiency right at the design stage.

DO asked about work with Zoe Osmond at University of Brighton’s Clean Growth UK. MRo confirmed he has been in touch and will be so later today.

PV said that the centre’s offer includes practical work from those experienced in the technology. Surveys have shown a lot of retrofit training has been unsatisfactory. SM concurred as he had a member of staff attend training in Crawley which included no practical work at all.

WG said that more careers advisers need to be up to date on construction, its green skills and the skillset needed. DC said that he has noticed construction has not been well represented at schools/careers events.

DR stated that there is a plan for a green pathway next year. SM highlighted that his fourth-year apprentices are now doing green skills, this would not have been the case 2-3 years earlier. Green will no longer be an ‘add-on’ in five years’ time.

ACTION 2: Invite consultants as well as property and procurement to see the decarbonisation hub – CB/SBu

ACTION 3: Put trainees in touch with MRo and PV for green skillsALL

4. Three Construction Working/Sub-Group Updates

An update paper had been circulated in advance. No questions had been tabled. Appreciate that some may not have digested and wish to send questions in afterwards. Given time constraints, the chairs gave a 1-2 minute summary.

WG1 – Changing Perceptions of the Sector

DM advised that the hub is an excellent showcase to demonstrate how the industry has changed and is changing. This appeals to people, especially the young, who want to support the environment. The majority of buildings we are going to use are already here, so retrofitting is key.

Perceptions need to change not just with potential workers and career advisers but within the industry itself. Experienced practical people who may not want or be able to do physical jobs, should consider sideways moves/retraining into other roles.

Construction is not “just banging nails in” or only for the “naughty boys”. Computer skills (3-D modelling and more), technical knowledge are all needed. Well paid jobs are on the horizon with infrastructure projects and more retrofitting. More employers attending schools/career events can get these important messages across. Perception shift is a long-term activity, but there is good work already in progress.

WG2 - Supporting Recruitment this week, this month, this year

MP advised that the group recapped the challenges and potential solutions to recruitment.

There is a need, especially for SMEs to think about recruitment earlier in the cycle. September is too late to think about taking an apprentice, larger firms will have prepared in the Spring and Summer. Transform can support with this and spreading that message.

The ideal SWAP (Sector based Work Academy Programme) for jobseekers is something the group will discuss in more detail when they next meet.

WG3 – Developing a Curriculum for the future

SBu advised that the plan is to hold a one-day event for the sector and invite Careers, Education, Information and Advice (CEIAG) personnel and job coaches.

This event will have practical demonstrations of newer technology/skills. This is so that those in teaching who may never have used them are familiar with them. The venue will need to accommodate practical activities.

The update paper has a timeline. The event will be in June/July (after exams) and be tied to Continuing Professional Development (CPD). A bid has gone in to fund it. WG advised early feedback on the bid is positive, but more employers need to be involved.

ACTION 4: Employers to get in touch with SBu and WG about practical demonstrations – ALL Employers

ACTION 5: Arrange sub-group meeting before the next Construction Task Group in February 2023 – DM/Chairs

5. Institute of Employment Studies Survey Future Skills Survey

MW introduced the survey which is now ‘live’ and asked that employers complete it and spread the word to their networks. He is presenting initial data and conducting some qualitative data gathering through discussions with the group.

Discussions concentrated on the following five key topics:

  1. Net Zero
  2. New Technology
  3. Cost of living crisis
  4. Brexit and Covid impact
  5. Future gazing

Given the venue, and sector there was a lot to be said on Net Zero. Concerns raised are the inconsistency on what people ask for, and the price they expect to pay for it. Specifications will include pricing for gas-fired boilers, but then heat pumps are wanted.

For businesses, electric vehicles work well for shorter distances and limited travel. Field engineers find they are unable to complete daily visits on smaller battery life. Larger vans are more expensive to buy and run. Electric vehicles have also been in short supply. Charging points are limited.

A mindset change is needed. Local authorities declaring a climate emergency has made a difference, but some feel Net Zero is not achievable, so why try at all?

[GC left around this time]

StH advised that engaging with youngsters on Open Doors visits is much better than at fairs. It would be good to get a wider range of students in.

New technology is not seen as a change that will significantly reduce labour across the sector. More skills in computing, especially 3-D modelling is needed. PJ said that there is a reduction in some skills need with technology such as the Streif building solutions that are easy to erect.

[NB and CMc joined around 10am]

Unemployment is currently low but there are also a large number of economically inactive adults. The greatest growth in these groups is those aged over 50.

Cost of living crisis and Brexit have seen increased wages. Lower paid jobs which were often filled by Eastern Europeans have seen increases which leads to increases up the chain. Skills shortages mean trained staff need to be retained.

Covid saw many older workers take early retirement. A few are looking for other work due to needing more income.

Mental health has and is being impacted. StH said this was a big issue before the huge increase in inflation with two male construction workers committing suicide a day.

Brexit led to restructures and redundancies. The prices and availability of materials meant tenders would be out of date within six months (sometimes six days). This reduces profit margins and actual viability on some work.

For the future, there is an experience gap which is often overlooked. Costs are likely to increase, especially if more is manufactured in the UK.

DH suggested using a large change from the past (such as Health and Safety at Work coming in the 1970s) as a model for the future, seeing what worked can be done.

CB queried if there will be a lack of investment in training due to the recession. SM agreed that keeping afloat today is a concern. Confidence needs to be maintained to look ahead and keep training new people and upskilling others.

PV raised that some apprentices feel they miss out on other practices. Flexi apprenticeships can help. Both East Sussex College Group and Trac use these.

SM observed that there is better collaboration around renewables. One company cannot deliver so there is work to go around. This helps with cross-training skills. StH noted that there will also be a growth in work fitting out homes for older people/people with mobility issues, such as wet rooms.


6. AOB (any other business)

Better employer attendance is wanted so that the group’s work better reflects needs across the sector. All members can invite other employers. SM and SBu are happy to have a discussion with them if they want more information. Or if they simply want an invitation, they can email

The employer should have an East Sussex connection and there is no criteria on size of employer. CB reiterated that attending these meetings contributes to the employer’s social value. People can also join the working groups. They will be added to the main group to stay informed.

Following the success of this hybrid meeting, we will aim to have two of the quarterly meetings a year as in-person/hybrid. Offers to host are welcome.

7. Next meeting

Friday 10th February 2023 09:30-11:00– online via MS Teams

Attendees and apologies


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

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

  • DH, Donna Harfield, ESCG, Vice-Principal - Business Development

  • DR, Damian Richards, ESCG, Co-Head Green Technology

  • GR, Gill Ramsay, ESCG, Business Development

  • MP, Marc Pope, CITB, Engagement Advisor – East Sussex

  • MRo, Matthew Roberts, ESCG, Co-Head Green Technology

  • KC, Kori Cox, ESCC, Employer Engagement Steps to Work

  • PJ, Paul Jennings, Morgan Sindall, Social Value Manager

  • PV, Paul Vine, OHM Energy, Director

  • StH, Steve Hayman, Cheesmur, Director

  • ST, Sara Taylor, Lewes District & Eastbourne Borough Councils, Regeneration Officer

  • WG, Wendy Gorham, East Sussex Careers Hub, Employability and Skills LeadRemote attendees 

  • CMc, Celine McGeown, CITB

  • DO, David Oloke [part], University of Brighton, Head of Technical Education and Apprenticeships

  • GC, George Chapman [part], Rother District Council, Construction Skills Coordinator

  • MA, Michele Agostini [part], Institute of Directors, Chair and Sussex Chamber of Commerce

  • MSc, Mathew Scamp, CXK (National Careers Service), Locality Manager

  • NB, Nick Backstrom [part], ESCG, Strategic Development Fund Lead

  • RG, Rachel Groves, VolkerFitzpatrick

  • PW, Paul Wright, TRAC


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


  • AW, Andy Williams, AJ Training, Managing Director

  • CE, Clair Eastes, East Sussex Highways/Jacobs, Head of Customer Service

  • ER, Elaine Remon, ESCG, Employability Operations Manager

  • IP, Ian Pickard, IPD Health and Safety Consultancy

  • IR, Ian Roadnight, ESCC Procurement 

  • JC, Jennie Cole, East Sussex Careers Hub, Enterprise Co-ordinator

  • JM, John Mitchell, Sussex Asphalte

  • NP, Noel Painting, University of Brighton, Senior Lecturer School of Architecture, Technology and Engineering

  • SaH, Sarra Hawes, Director, Hawes Construction

  • SHa, Susan Harrison, Austin Cradles
  • SS, Steve Sefton, University of Brighton, Business Development Adviser Technical Education and Apprentices Hub

  • VPo, Vanessa Potter, SCTP, Executive Director