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Constructing Excellence South West is celebrating the tenth episode of its Generation for Change construction podcast.

Organised by G4C South West (G4CSW), the professional voice of young people in the UK built environment, the podcast series was launched almost 12 months ago to encourage careers in construction.

Each episode offers listeners an exclusive insight into the different roles available in the industry, and showcases how they can progress, featuring interviews with senior leaders and managers in the sector.

G4CSW is committed to helping develop the future leaders of the industry, by showing talented young people the range of opportunities that could lie ahead of them.

“With almost half of employees in construction aged between 45 and 65, more needs to be done to attract younger generations to one of the UK’s biggest industries,” explains Lizzy Painter, Chair of G4CSW.

“We need to change the perception of our industry from a male-dominated world that involves working long hours in unpleasant conditions, to a more attractive future prospect for younger generations.

“To make a real difference and encourage young people to take up a career in construction, we need to offer an inside look into the industry to show that the job prospects and professional possibilities are endless – and the podcast is a great way to do this.

“We spotted an opportunity to create something new which would help change the negative perception of the industry. We’re incredibly proud of the podcast series and can’t wait to keep offering valuable content to those who are considering pursuing a job in construction.

As a newer regional group, G4CSW has been rapidly gathering momentum this year by engaging and working with the younger generation. The team has not only hosted the podcast but has also organised a series of events across the South West to help tackle the skills shortage in the sector.

For more information about the G4CSW’s activity and how you can get involved CLICK HERE

Welcome and thank you!

I am writing this piece on Valentine’s Day, which is fitting given my love for construction and all it achieves. Constructing Excellence has for years been the place where it’s been possible to feed your passion and soak up excellence in all its forms with likeminded people.

Having chaired the Construction Clients Group for Constructing Excellence and experienced the work of CESW through both a client and contractor lens over many years I was delighted to be offered the opportunity to join the new CESW board.

Our beloved industry, at its best benefits us all through the inspiring spaces, and practical infrastructure solutions and routes to a greener future. That said we are in crisis and right now construction is not universally loved.

We see this in our communities, the tweeters, documentary makers, investors and politicians who right now are collectively holding a mirror up and saying enough is enough, dealing out some tough love and saying we want you but not like this.

Now is the time for Constructing Excellence, to play cupid match best practice and open hearts for change and thereby positively disrupt the industry for good and change our stars.

Now is the time for Constructing Excellence to empower the change that is coming from the ground up, top down and from within our own businesses. To nurture and promote the best and help those who need it to break through the barriers to change put up over the years and which hold no place in the few years we have until 2050.

This year’s Theme Groups for future skills, smart construction, climate crisis and building safety with the cross-cutting agendas for diversity and inclusion, health and well being and procurement on value support the change we need to see in the world.

Now is the time for Constructing Excellence and I am excited to have this chance to work with you all at this precise time and play what part I can to make change happen and encouraging new generation of people to find love for our industry or to find it again. What will Valentine be saying about us in the 14th Feb 2023?

The G4C SW February 2022 G4CSW podcast is live!

Listen to Niall Wellington of E G Carter & Co Ltd chat to Andrew Foster of Robothams Architects.

Andrew talks about his introduction into Architecture, as well as his views and experiences within the construction industry.

A great listen for anyone interested in understanding more about the role of Architects in the construction and engineering industry.

This podcast is also available on Apple podcasts and Spotify by searching “Generation for Change”.

This month Martyn Jones examines the kind of inter-organisational relationships and ways of working we need in construction as we face our current challenges, and asks if we differentiate enough between Efficiency and Effectiveness in our procurement strategies.

Improving inter-organisational relationships and processes have been at the heart of the Construction Reform Movement since the emergence of the Information and Communication (ICT) paradigm in construction in the early 1990s. Back then, The Reading Construction Forum’s report Unlocking specialist potential: A more participative role for specialist contractors, set out, along with other publications, the importance of improving relationships, integrating processes and being focused on the needs of customers along the whole supply chain.

But that was then and this is now. We have moved on. We are now facing new challenges but in dealing with them we have a much greater understanding of the importance, nature and role of inter-organisational relationships and how to work more seamlessly in project teams and supply chains.

One of the things we’ve learnt is that there is a range of relationships and purchasing strategies available to us. We have also learnt to think in terms of supply networks rather than supply chains and in value streams rather than supply chains. But, do we differentiate enough between Efficiency and Effectiveness in setting our procurement goals?

The main purchasing goals and options are set out in the following proposed framework, which challenges us to differentiate between Efficiency and Effectiveness:

The horizontal arm of the framework sets out our key strategic goals. The vertical arm presents the three main procurement strategies, inter-organisational relationships and ways of working to achieve these goals: Transactional, Relational Partnerships and Collaborative Network. The Transactional and Relational Partnerships approaches are well documented and practised and so are not examined here.

In addition, the horizontal arm of the framework presents, side by side, the two main overarching approaches to achieving our goals within Collaborative Networks: Efficiency and Effectiveness. You will see that the proponents of the former I’ve called “The perfectionists” and the latter, “The Cocreators”.

But why differentiate between efficiency and effectiveness?  Although they sound similar and are often interchanged, they mean quite different things.

Efficiency refers to doing things in the right way or manner. As margins are normally low in this approach it’s about getting the maximum output with the minimum resources. It’s to do with continuous incremental improvement but within the present state or the status quo, as thinking about the future or significantly changing resources might impact on the current state of efficiency. This can build inflexibility into the system

Effectiveness on the other hand is about thinking “outside the box” to do the right things. Its proponents constantly measure if the actual outcomes are delivering the desired outcomes. They believe in meeting the end goals and willingly seek out and embrace any variables that may change in the future.  They keep the long-term strategy in mind and are more adaptable to changes both in the market and the wider environment in which they operate. The approach requires learning and innovation as people have to think in different ways to satisfy the desired goals or outcomes.

In construction we have tended to focus on the Efficiency approach, placing an emphasis on cost reduction, resulting in what many view as a race to the bottom. However, in responding to the quality and safety of our buildings and the climate crisis, we have become increasingly aware of the need for the Effectiveness approach in dealing with uncertainty, ensuring the future business potential for our organisations, and repurposing our industry.

More than ever, purchasers of construction products and services need to be clear whether they are seeking – through their purchasing behaviours – efficiency of operation and cost leadership, or effectiveness and innovation.

The proponents of the Efficiency approach prescribe a network of key relationships that work like clockwork. The main objective is strict efficiency achieved through collaborative relationships, integrated systems and processes, and the synchronisation of value-adding activities of each value stream partner.

In this approach, flow of work, timeliness, compliance and the reduction of waste and cost are essential, since they have direct effects on the operability and efficiency of the whole supply network. The core ideology of this purchasing strategy is integrating the processes of each of the partners to produce and deliver products and services accurately, efficiently, seamlessly and without interruptions.

Given the immense challenges we face in construction, including amongst other things, the need to radically improve the quality of our outcomes and address climate change, we need the Effectiveness approach.

But given the nature of our clients and their divers needs, we have to offer both approaches. Where clients have a pipeline of standardised products and well-established processes, then the Efficiency approach is most appropriate. Also, where extensive offsite production is being deployed.

On the other hand, Effectiveness networks might be seen as being more appropriate in developing the innovative products and services we need to combat climate change. They can support cocreation based on open knowledge sharing and competence transfer between the partners in the network and support the more radical Research and Development (R&D) activity that we sorely need.

Constructing Excellence South West (CESW) has launched a free online mental health and wellbeing hub to support individuals working in construction.

With more than one in ten construction workers in the South West admitting to poor mental health, the organisation has partnered with Red Dot 365 to offer direct confidential access to qualified mental health and wellbeing therapists – at no cost to the individual.

A physical ‘red dot’ has been placed in a prominent position at the top of the existing CESW website and allows users to access fully funded therapists 24/7, 365 days a year.

“By pressing the ‘red dot’ users will be asked to answer just a few questions before being given access to the support they need, at a time that works best for them,” explains John Williams, Director and Owner of Red Dot 365.

“Creating facilities like this means we can capture and understand the real challenges in the sector and therefore, we can proactively help provide the right support at the right time – when people need it most.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for people working in the sector to be given a voice to influence the sector in a positive way and make a real difference.”

Constructing Excellence South West champions mental health and this is the latest step the team has taken to help those working in the industry.

“When we previously partnered with Red Dot 365, we found that 10% of construction workers rate their mental and personal wellbeing as poor, so we knew more needed to be done to help,” said Andrew Carpenter, CEO of Constructing Excellence South West.

“It’s been a tough two years for the sector and as we begin to adjust to a new normal and face the fallout from the Covid pandemic, stress levels may be higher than ever. It doesn’t matter what role you undertake, this mental health support is available to anyone who works in the construction and built environment sector.

“It’s time to challenge the historical macho approach of just ‘man up and get on with it,’ and instead address the issues we face. Thanks to our collaboration with Red Dot 365, we can now offer access to qualified therapists throughout the year, at no cost for individuals and organisations – which is a great first step to help make a change to the overall wellbeing of people working in this sector.”

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