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Back to school for a more effective collaborative approach

April 2015

David Picton, chief sustainability officer at Carillion, gives an update on the expanded Supply Chain Sustainability School for FM and Service suppliers

Martin Luther King once explained that “we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” This notion of collaboration for the common good was at the heart of our work to help launch the expanded Supply Chain Sustainability School for Facilities Management (FM) and Services suppliers.

A tough and competitive industry, the construction and services companies which provide, build and maintain the nation’s built environment have not always been known for positive collaboration, and maybe few would regard themselves as brothers (or sisters). But, more than eight months of hard work came to fruition at the start of 2015, as the award-winning Supply Chain Sustainability School expanded its original coverage of just the construction sectors and branched out to include Facilities Management and Services. Leaders and partners from across the industry packed into the Natural History Museum, not to stare at the dinosaurs or protest the change of the main hall exhibit, but to stand in unity to support one great idea. This idea was the upskilling of an industry.

Having chaired the Steering Group of partners which brought this expansion to life, it was clear that there is an exceptional buzz of energy around the complexity and tough challenges of our industry.

As we were successful in securing part-funding from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills – there was an unmistakeable recognition of the need for skills development. In the fields of sustainability, there’s little chance of achieving anything very meaningful without collaboration – and the Supply Chain Sustainability School is a leading example of this.

The School has made exceptional progress in the last two years in upskilling supply chain companies and people across the construction industry, and now features content, resources and best practice to focus on the FM and Services sub-sectors. The School offers a comprehensive virtual learning environment free to its registered users, including:
- Best practice resources to help FM suppliers and sub-contractors develop their sustainability knowledge and competence
- Self-assessed action plans to demonstrate benchmarking, and routes of progress towards greater skills
- E-learning modules, plus unique management systems to track progress
- Opportunities for involvement at supplier development days and sustainability workshops
- Access and input to other groups, events and initiatives within the wider School (including groups focused on construction, infrastructure, and research)

FM companies and their workers have free access to help them develop their sustainability knowledge and competence, improve efficiency and cut costs across the built environment’s supply chain. With UK markets for FM and Services forecast to rise to over £117bn by 2017, the ability to meet the needs of that growth sustainably and responsibly will be critical to long-term success. The call is for innovation in management, leadership development and action-focused delivery … and this means working together to make it happen.

Now, more than ever, sustainability is not a nice-to-have, it is critical for long-term business success. That critical nature extends to making sustainability a strong, balanced approach across environmental, social and economic responsibilities. In sectors like construction and services, which rely fundamentally on working with supply chain partners, it is important not just to set high expectations and commercial mechanisms for delivery of those responsibilities, but also to recognise that collaboration is key to success. If we are to develop and maintain tomorrow’s buildings and infrastructure, we must act today to ensure the next generation of tradespeople are suitably skilled, prepared and conscious of their impacts.

Beyond the online School setting, businesses need to work with government, schools and colleges to jointly address the industry’s skills shortages. Collectively, we need to ensure that those who are working within the industry are equipped with the skills needed to deliver some of the most exciting infrastructure projects that will transform the UK over the next decade and beyond.

In helping to play its part, the School’s leadership group has set itself some challenging aims:
• Driving greater sustainability knowledge, best practice and performance in the FM supply chain
• Inspiring and persuading more FM suppliers to develop their sustainability knowledge
• Using the School to disseminate new sustainability learning materials
• Identifying sources of funding to support the development of sustainability skills

Managing resources wisely, developing new and competitive innovations, engaging credibly with local communities and building long-term economic success all require learning and skills development. This – fundamentally – is what the School is trying to deliver. Success depends on a community of people working together to make things happen. In the same way, sustainability can only be achieved by groups working together to change the way things are done.

The School is very much about delivery and progression of an industry, and hopefully, if we continue to work together, we will see that collaboration leads to success.

Carillion is standing shoulder to shoulder with other major industry partners – contributing funds, helping to create content and leadership governance – and we are actively encouraging all our accredited suppliers to join us in supporting the School and harvesting its sustainability resources.

This School is very much about delivery and, through working together, we will also learn together – and that will be at the heart of our collaboration to help the UK become more competitive in the global market place.

Carillion | UK & NI Ireland | supply chain


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