Industry trends

Iain McIlwee: Training and Skills Competence go Hand-in-Hand

September 29, 2023

The CEO of Finishes and Interiors Sector addressed attendees at the recent Launch Open Day of the brand new Rockfon Training Centre in Daventry, England.

Iain McIlwee, CEO of FIS (Finishes and Interiors Sector), at the Rockfon Training Centre in Daventry

lain McIlwee, CEO of the Finishes and Interiors Sector (FIS), spoke at the Launch Open Day of the new Rockfon Training Centre in Daventry, England. McIlwee’s talk, “How far does training and skills competence go hand-in-hand", focused on culture, trust, and transformation. He mourned that the tragic events that led to the death of 72 people in West London in 2017 were in no small part due to failings in the construction process, saying, “…with this very much in mind, those within the construction industry had to bring about change”.

He explained that the “FIS Quality Framework”, built around Product, Process, and People, was part of his organisation’s reaction to the tragedy. He feared, though, “We are some ways from understanding the complexity and responsibility of demonstrating Performance, Competence, Organisational Capability, and Quality Control”.

McIlwee acknowledged that the focus of the Training Centre launch was to expand knowledge and expertise, which would result in increased competence. He wanted to hone in on a key quote from Dame Judith Hackitt’s 2018 interim report, Raising the Bar: “The lack of a coherent and comprehensive approach to competence can seriously compromise the fire safety of HRRBs, for example, where decisions are taken and/or materials are installed by people who do not fully understand the implications of how to achieve good quality building work, and the implications of getting it wrong”. He recognised the statement wasn’t inferring that all were incompetent but that, while there was a lot of talk about skills, there had been a cavalier approach to managing competence.

Those within the construction industry had to bring about change.

lain McIlwee

CEO, Finishes and Interiors Sector

McIlwee pointed out that it wasn’t just about fire; “The disconnect between the way we procure and deliver buildings has been under the microscope for decades. “The Wood Report, Ethan, Lathams, Farmer, the Construction Industry Strategy, have all made the people point”. He particularly commended the Great Housing Disaster documentary, produced in 1984, a key finding of which was that the use of unskilled labour on low wages had led to endemic time-saving and corner-cutting. He added that we seem doomed to repeat, citing “Edinburgh Schools” and the “Hospitals in Scotland Inquiry”, which again demonstrated a complex failing in specification.

McIlwee then went on to explain how “The Building Safety Act” was a game-changer, which introduces a more linear and controlled process and some hard stops, with new duty holders defined: the client who commissions the work, the principal designer who carries out the design, the principal contractor who controls the construction work, and the designer and contractor that are engaged in the project. The act also ushers in stiffer penalties with a duty of competence on the entire supply chain. The “Building Act Amendment – Part 2A” additionally details competence requirements for the entire workforce.

McIlwee explained that the ‘FIS Sector Guide – Competency Management Plans’, encompasses Organisational Competence, Occupational Competence, and Functional Competence.

The new training centre in Daventry, England offers courses which cover every facet of Rockfon’s ceiling and acoustic systems and that range from half-day taster sessions to deep dives. To learn more about the courses available, visit Rockfon Training.