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Why attitudes, behaviours and safety awareness are as important to Construction as skills validation

By Mark Buckton, NOCN, head of construction, NOCN

Cskills Awards is the construction arm of NOCN, a market leading Awarding Organisation for vocational and technical qualifications. It is currently running another series of its highly popular roadshows during November and December. These insightful events are a fantastic way for FE colleges and training providers, employers and individuals alike to update themselves on the latest developments from NOCN and Cskills Awards and the range of practical benefits they bring.

Cskills Awards provides a wide range of NOCN qualifications and skills to help the construction sector meet rising national demand, as key infrastructure projects get underway. With a solid reputation for quality and reliability, it supports hundreds of centres nationwide as they provide training in everything from securing their Competency Cards to becoming specialists in their chosen field.

However, while evaluation, accreditation and certification are important, we are definitely not about turning out legions of inflexible workers, each with only a narrow focus on their own role. Beyond the practical leading-edge skills Cskills Awards offers – it is a complete learner package that inspires and enables the sector’s growth, improved productivity and greater competitive advantage - crucial, wider considerations are important.

These are discussed and presented at our roadshow sessions by our talented teams of construction industry experts. We don’t simply encourage the loading up of ‘qualifications for the sake of qualifications’ in a series of tick-box compliance exercises. Instead, we provide an appreciation of the constant need for site safety and careful, considerate working.

We ensure that learners understand the importance of getting things right at every level, this approach leads to staff adding value to every role they undertake as they progress through clearly defined careers - taking on responsibility for the learning and development of others as they advance. By knowing the serious consequences of something going wrong onsite because of incompetence or negligence, generations who work with Cskills Awards have raised standards of efficacy and good practice.

We also impart to apprentices their ambassadorial role – for their employer; the project, its partners and stakeholders; and the wider industry. This has created a more considerate and courteous culture on-site. This is strengthened by our diversity drives that have seen more females and minorities and a wider age spectrum of apprentices enter the industry.

Our commitment to construction skills is unswerving but that doesn’t mean that instilling the right attitudes and behaviours aren’t just as important as the validation of aptitudes. It is vital to get things right at every level – not only to meet the demands of any given task but to shoulder a wider responsibility for the safety, welfare and peace-of-mind of colleagues; site visitors; people in shared or nearby live environments; and the wider public beyond the work zone.

We reject any knee-jerk reactions of ‘Health & Safety gone mad!’, instead insisting that high standards of care are always maintained. In this way, accidents and mishaps are pegged at very low levels as risks are managed and shoddy practise confronted and thwarted. It means that both those onsite and nearby are kept as far from harm as possible.

In the same way, and in tandem with this effort, our priority on considerate working means that distress and inconvenience to others by those who work on construction sites is being reduced.

To ensure continuity, we instil in all learners their prospects of career progression - and the importance of ensuring that those who follow them meet the same rigorous professional standards.

And construction is a profession. One as fundamental and vital to everyday human activity - commercial, social, retail and domestic interaction – as any other and certainly more than most. Without buildings, bridges, roads, major transport hubs, our societies would grind to a halt.

As such, we ‘professionalise’ the sector. As well as an insatiable appetite for innovation and improvement, this is apparent in the mindset we create in our apprentices, who are made to realise that they are working toward professional qualifications and must demonstrate professional behaviours, too.

The old perceptions of being 'tradesmen' or 'on the tools' are now misconceptions. A construction career pays just as well as other professions – and that is why we are working to meet the need for proper ongoing professional development.

NOCN and Cskills Awards together ensure that already high calibre candidates are given everything they need to make a success of their lives and boost the prospects of their employers, the sector and the wider economy.

All this, of course, includes offsite construction too – and we will be unveiling our new Offsite Construction NVQ, that launches in December, on the roadshow.

Tickets for our roadshow events are limited to two per applicant, on a first come, first served basis and spaces are limited. For a full schedule of events, click here.