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Leading with competence

The Grenfell tragedy shone a horrifying light on decades of under-investment in skills and knowledge across the construction industry. The resulting Building Safety Act is looking to fix many of the problems and manufacturers have an important role to play.

At Knauf we have a track record of continuous professional development for our staff. The transition to a competency model that looks to fulfil the objectives of the Building Safety Act and the associated Code for Construction Product Information has been relatively smooth – if challenging.

We had our own processes and systems in place but have evolved and developed these to make sure they completely support the objectives of the new regulations.

The renewed focus on training, mentoring, assessment, and continuous review is very welcome. We need to be able to show our customers that our staff are demonstrably competent, and we need clear pathways for our staff to map their progress and signpost their progression.

Re-evaluating roles

Our reaction to this focus within Knauf has been to re-assess the effectiveness of all the training that we provide and be very precise in defining what is expected of each role. We have defined key customer-facing positions within the company in terms of the competence needed to deliver the outcome required by that role.

Every job role then has a clear and systematic training programme which is assessed and reviewed regularly. Effective training at the start is key – but so is maintaining training and assessments to ensure knowledge is retained and expanded over time.

Supporting the contractors

As a business, we can introduce a systematic approach to training and skills because we have a fully employed workforce and it is absolutely in our interests to keep investing in our staff. This may be more challenging for a contractor if it relies on significant volumes of self-employed tradespeople to deliver each project.

For this situation we also have a solution, our training centres through which we support contractors. Via these centres, Knauf can support the theoretical and practical installation of our products and systems, helping contractors to be better informed and able to carry out their work.

Our training centres are therefore naturally the focus for much attention in the competency mix. We need to make sure that our trainers are competent in the technical aspects of their role, their ability to pass on expertise and to assess.

Completion of assessments ensures the trainees are able to demonstrate their learning and identify further development – all of which supports their journey of becoming competent.

The manufacturer role

As a key supplier to the construction sector, we see this investment as part of our contribution to the supply chain that needs to deliver safe, high performing buildings.

There are differing points of view on this level of commitment to transparent training and competency. At Knauf we understand the importance of supporting our supply chain, delivering training for installers to help them be better aware, informed, and able to install our systems.

There is no doubt that both the Building Safety Act and the Code for Construction Products Information put significant additional resource requirements at every stage of the supply chain. 

Our observation would be that as an industry we have skimped on training for too long. Buildings are complicated and the people who construct them need to have significant technical knowledge. We’re happy to play our part, confident that the investment we are making will contribute to the overall improvement of the construction sector in this country.

Mandeep Bansal, Technical Advocacy Director

Jimmy Collins, Head of Technical  

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