Chairman’s View: The importance of training
The Government’s much vaunted £6 billion commitment to local road maintenance should be good news for local authorities and the road maintenance industry, albeit we have to wait until 2015/16 for the pledged funding. This leaves a two year period when deteriorating road conditions will continue unless preventative treatments are undertaken.
The Road Surface Treatments Association members have a full part to play in this interim period and of course when the increased funding is realised. One particular concern, however, is the growing skills shortage in the road maintenance industry. The major downturn in construction over the last few years reduced the number of people in the overall industry and in stringent times, training is usually an early casualty in the drive to reduce overheads and costs.
Compare that to the backdrop where client bodies are insisting upon better qualified people and also demonstrable competency credentials. There can be little argument against a better trained workforce but we do need to attract good people into our industry and give them interesting and rewarding career opportunities.
The road maintenance sector is its own specialisation within the construction industry and the RSTA is fully supportive and collaborating with Derby University’s new Diploma Course in road surface technology. Creating the engineering skills and technical knowledge via a recognised academic qualification is a positive step in educating a new tranche of engineers in specific maintenance techniques.
The RSTA is also heavily engaged with industry and local authorities in training with courses at all levels, raising skill levels and creating a demonstrably more competent workforce. I am extremely pleased with the RSTA training facilities which have grown considerably over the last two years with our Training Manager – Clive Mitchell engaging with members and local authorities and delivering courses which meet their needs. The RSTA is actively helping to reverse the draining of knowledge from our industry due to an ageing workforce and a shortage of engineers with maintenance experience – this can only be seen as a positive part in preserving and maintaining the nation’s biggest asset – roads!
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