Key industry figures reflect on ‘productive, useful and surprising’ first year of CICV Forum
After marking the anniversary of its first-ever meeting, key members of the Construction Industry Coronavirus Forum (CICV Forum) have revealed their personal highlights of working together for the ever-expanding collective.
The unique collaboration of trade associations, professional bodies, companies and individuals has helped guide the industry and public through a year of massive upheaval with a wealth of information and unrivalled teamwork.
And as the Forum celebrated the anniversary of its first meeting on 5 April 2020 by releasing an updated round-up of its accomplishments over the last 12 months, many members said their most fervent wish is for this spirit of togetherness to continue.
Alan Wilson, CICV Forum chair and managing director of electrical trade association SELECT, said: “When the idea of the Forum was first mooted, I don’t think that anyone could have imagined the way in which the concepts of collaboration, cooperation and commitment would be so quickly translated into action.
“The many distinct strands of the sector have come together as never before with one common goal – ensuring that not only do we survive this dreadful pandemic, but that we come out of it stronger and more positive than before. For me, that has been the undoubted highlight.”
Gordon Nelson, Scotland director of the Federation of Master Builders, echoed the sentiment, saying: “It was quite remarkable how, once the Forum was established, people were queuing up to come aboard, wanting to help and contribute their skills and expertise. It really did show that we are #InThisTogether.
“The highlight for me is that organisations are still eager to join and sit alongside other senior representatives who operate the length and breadth of Scotland’s built environment supply chain.”
For other members of the Forum, highlights covered a wide range of areas from the past 12 months, including the influence the group has achieved, the quality of the information that’s been shared and the accessibility of the guidance and advice offered.
John McKinney, Scotland manager of the NFRC, said: “For me, what was so pleasing was how quickly it became clear that the Forum was speaking for the entire sector, and with that weight of influence behind it, was soon viewed as a valuable and influential voice for the industry.
“I have been heartened to see how rapidly we gained a place at the top decision-making tables and could speak authoritatively, listen constructively and act decisively with the Scottish Government, local government and other major bodies about the most pressing matters as the pandemic progressed.”
Rebecca Crosland, head of health & safety at the Building and Engineering Services Association (BESA), said: “My highlight has been seeing how, at a time of uncertainty and confusion, the expertise of Forum members has helped create a strong pipeline of relevant, practical and easy-to-understand information.
“Over the course of the year, we have regularly produced guidance documents with a wealth of health and safety advice to keep workers, clients and the public safe, and will continue to provide updated guidance as we progress down the route map to recovery.”
Iain McIlwee, chief executive of the Finishes and Interiors Sector, echoed her sentiments, saying: “I was delighted to see the quick realisation that any information had to be disseminated in a simple, easily digestible form which would resonate throughout the hugely disparate elements of the sector.
“The resulting high points have been many, but I’ve really enjoyed the animations on domestic working, returning to work safely, physical distancing and face coverings that, like much of the guidance, has been adopted across Scotland and beyond.”
For other members of the Forum, the highlights have included its free webinars, the important papers produced, the unanimity in seeking the common good and the considered and thoughtful visions for the future.
Len Bunton, construction consultant and co-Chair of the Forum’s Pipeline and Commercial Sub-Group, saluted the wide range of open-source online sessions hosted by the Forum. He said: “My personal highlight has been the wealth of free essential commercial advice that’s been delivered, including vital information on payments and contracts.
“The Forum’s list of webinars illustrates how these talks, all presented by renowned industry experts, offered clear and relevant guidance to today’s construction professionals.”
Fiona Hodgson, chief executive of the Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation, said: “In the past, construction has been seen as competitive and confrontational, so it was enormously encouraging to see how people pooled resources to produce a range of expert analysis and advice on helping the sector.
“This unique collaboration has not only given the industry an authoritative common voice, it has also resulted in a wide range of papers that have been shared with powers-that-be to inform and enlighten them about the true state of the sector and the future towards which it is striving. For me, that is a significant highlight of a truly eventful year.”
Vaughan Hart, managing director of the Scottish Building Federation, and co-chair of the Forum’s Skills and Workforce sub-group, said: “Perhaps it has taken an emergency of almost inconceivable proportions to pull the industry together, but whatever the reason, the result has been nothing short of excellent and is undoubtedly a high point for me.
“I am hearted to see that, for the first time, this is the sector speaking with one voice, for the greater good not only of its component parts, but for the future health of the sector as a whole and for the future benefit of the country and the wider economy.”
Grahame Barn, chief executive of CECA Scotland, agreed with his compatriot, adding: “A year ago, the construction industry in Scotland suffered a convulsion which, in the days before COVID-19 would have been unimaginable.
“My highlight has been the willingness of so many people to offer practical and constructive ways to keep alive a vitally important sector that is a major economic multiplier, employs 175,000 people and contributes £21.5 billion to GDP.”
The final word went to Hew Edgar, associate director of policy at the Chartered Institute of Building, who said: “As a direct result of our communications and interactions with the industry, the highlight for me has been our collective vision for the future.
“After the initial Blueprint for our Industry, I was proud to be involved in the creation of the recent CICV Forum Manifesto, which highlights the issues that an incoming government in Scotland needs to address after the Holyrood elections next month.
“It has been a productive, useful and surprising year, but the industry can be assured that the Forum will continue to outline practical measures we can all take to build a better future.”
Made up of leading trade associations, professional services bodies and companies, the CICV Forum was formed in March 2020 and held its first meeting on 5 April. Since then, it has maintained a steady supply of information and practical advice to the sector as well as carrying out surveys, hosting webinars and holding regular discussions with the Scottish Government.