Construction Industry (Fair Work)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 20th April 2022.

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Photo of Gillian Mackay Gillian Mackay Green

2. To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to implement the Fair Work Convention’s recommendations on building fair work into the construction industry. (S6O-00967)

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government is supporting plans for a more sustainable, productive, innovative and diverse industry. We very much welcome the results of the Fair Work Convention’s construction industry inquiry, and we thank the convention and its construction industry inquiry group for the extensive research that they have undertaken.

The inquiry makes a range of recommendations about how to enhance fair work in the sector and remain competitive, making it more appealing to workers. Those recommendations are being considered by ministers.

The vision is for Scotland to be a leading fair work nation by 2025, and a place where fair work drives success, wellbeing and prosperity for people, businesses, organisations and society. We look forward to considering the report’s recommendations.

Photo of Gillian Mackay Gillian Mackay Green

Given the extent of subcontracting in construction, has the Scottish Government considered mechanisms to go further in ensuring that fair work criteria are implemented throughout the construction supply chain and not just for those who are employed directly in public procurement?

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

Gillian Mackay has raised an important theme. We are considering further how subcontractors and contractors can be subject to fair work first criteria and so on.

The Scottish Government is already asking participants in tender submissions questions about fair work. The intention is that the delivery of any such commitments, including fair work criteria, will be monitored throughout the construction projects that are taking place in Scotland and in the forthcoming civil engineering framework. The Government will also be trialling a performance monitoring regime that will regularly review prompt payment and community benefits in all projects awarded under the Scottish Government’s civil engineering framework, which will be tendered later this year.

Photo of Jamie Halcro Johnston Jamie Halcro Johnston Conservative

The minister will be aware of the convention’s observations that the existing labour force in the sector is ageing and around 85 per cent male, with low numbers of ethnic minorities and people with disabilities represented. If the sector is to be expected to support significant goals such as meeting housebuilding targets and net zero commitments, a new generation will have to be brought in. What is the minister doing, and what cross-Government work is being done, to promote the sector and build in the skills that are needed for the future?

Photo of Richard Lochhead Richard Lochhead Scottish National Party

My colleague, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, regularly meets the trade association bodies for the construction sector, as do other ministers. We also meet the training providers as well as those in the further and higher education sector to discuss some of the challenges facing the construction sector in Scotland. Like many other sectors here, it has had to cope with the fallout from Brexit as well as the pandemic. I assure the member, therefore, that right across Government, we are considering how to help not just the construction sector but many of our other sectors with recruitment and some of the labour challenges that they face.