When the Scaffolding Association was formed, we wanted to provide advice and support for specialist contractors active in the access, scaffolding and temporary structures sector who were not served by existing trade bodies.
The Association has grown to have more than 350 members. Through this growing membership, we now represent contractors that employ over 10,000 qualified scaffolders. There are believed to be approximately 50,000 card-carrying scaffolders in the UK working for more than 5,000 scaffolding contracting companies.
Bringing more contractors into membership will encourage higher standards of safety and technical performance, which will drive up efficiency and develop a more highly skilled workforce that the construction and engineering industries need.
We have developed good relationships with other industry groups and contractors, such as the HSE and the Home Building Skills Partnership. We are also the only scaffolding representative of the Specialist Engineering Contractors’ (SEC) Group, whose members account for 35 per cent of construction output in the UK. It lobbies for fair supply chain payment and has a network of key contacts in government and industry.
More main contractors are accepting our members onto their supply chain lists, so there are increasingly new work opportunities available to Association members. Equally, clients have access to a greater pool of credible specialists that offer more competition and high standards of service.
We are also committed to providing our members with a route map to help them embrace and share best practice. Safety and technical quality are pivotal in our approach as members can progress through our interrelated membership categories, win more work and become more profitable.
The Association is not in competition with the NASC because we serve different membership groups. While we do have more member companies than the NASC, our vision is not about size and power; our vision is to be inclusive and accessible,and work in partnership so that our sector can tackle the challenges we face.
For example, safety is a critical component, so by working with the HSE and as a member of CONIAN, the leading construction industry safety network, we are able to represent the views of SMEs in our sector.
We all agree that the sector faces a skills shortage and with the CITB pulling out of training there is a lack of available localised training to meet growing demand. Some 70 per cent of scaffolders work for companies not represented by the existing training structures. If we are to raise both standards of training and continuous skill improvement, training and skills certification should be more sensitive to the capacity of the many, not just the few.
The whole sector should strive to work together, challenge outdated attitudes and improve understanding throughout the supply chain. We want the access and scaffolding sector to have a safety-led culture that exemplifies creativity, innovation and engineering quality.
If we can achieve this, it will help the sector to attract and keep the best talent, so everyone involved experiences a safe and rewarding career.