Employers formed a construction professions board, initiated by Master Builders North, to develop and grade construction workers and companies in 2016.
Associations representing 41 industries in the built environment, have united to establish a single employer confederation, to be known as the Professional Board for the Master Built Environment (PBMBE).
The body said it would take responsibility across the 41 professions and crafts, for professional designations of people who work in the sector, and for grading of companies in terms of five aspects, each compliant with BBBEE requirements.
CEO of the PBMBE, Dr Ivor Blumenthal, told Sheqafrica.com that employers want to “take back responsibility for the recognition of professional excellence, in a voluntary, rather than statutory framework, to better regulate, govern and represent the construction sector.
“Employers own the master built sector, and fund its various initiatives, and pay the skills levy which is supposed to support industry.
“Employers are left with the result of current skilling and training initiatives from funded learnerships.”
Blumenthal said a strong build environment sector could “self-govern, to the same level as other more established and independent sectors, recognised by the state, but free of government interference, and in concert with meaningful and constructive social partners, such as organised labour.”
The General Contracting Chamber, initiated by Master Builders North, is one of the ten chapters serving the 41 professions. The other Master Builders regions were invited to become involved.
The PBMBE would ensure training, to avoid retraining, and ensure Continuous Professional Development (CPD) of every worker in construction.
Companies will be graded by the board
Companies operating in the sector will be “accountable to the PBMBE, and through it, to each industry-specific employer association, for the competency of people employed, and for moral and ethical behaviour of staff and the company.”
The board would also accredit relevant training providers.
There is general criticism of some aspects of the statutory boards, such as the CBE, and statutory skills authorities, such as the SETAs, SDL, NQF, NLRD, QCTO, and AQPs.
The new board would source appropriate and trained employee, and develop skills plans individuals, via the capacity of the existing associations.
Questioned about the statutory structures, Blumenthal told Sheqafrica.com; “There are many externally imposed statutory bodies, enforced on the master built sector, with a great deal of overlap, and uncertainty in mandate and objectives.
“Employer associations do not have a meaningful or significant seat on any of these statutory bodies.”
Employers do not want to bypass statutory bodies, but “create a framework for collective self governance, to make more sense of the patchwork of externally imposed bodies, to extract as much contribution from their various mandates, to benefit employers.”
Blumenthal’s vision is a better skills policy framework, and to attract state funding from the statutory bodies. State skills funds “have not been managed successfully to the benefit of the industries and employers.”
The PBMBE intends to self-govern without external interference. “Once established, we would have a better opportunity to engage with other social partners.”
State skills landscape in disarray
The statutory construction umbrella body, The Council for the Built Environment (CBE), was already earmarked for closure some time ago (see an earlier report on Sheqafrica.com).
The Construction SETA is marred in controversy and accusations of fraud and forensic audits revealing huge corruption and PFMA discrepancies.
State professionalisation of Project Managers had resulted in 300 designated people. The majority remain unregistered and unregulated.
Construction Health and Safety registration via the SACPCMP has also been problematic, despite the backing of the Master Builders associations and employers.
The new voluntary construction professions board would establish a series of professional designations across the construction sector, via the existing associations.
For example, in the Plumbing Chamber, IOPSA would lead skills functions such as moderation and accreditation of training providers; learning programmes, and summative assessments of Plumbers for professional registration.
Jointly the PBMBE and IOPSA would grade plumbing companies. The same would apply in the other professions and trades. Work experience would be recognised by RPL.
Employers would provide practical training sites. The management of the trainees would be done by the PBMBE in association with the relevant employer body, and the training provider.
“What we want from employers, is workplace supervision, and logbooks of experience,” explained Blumenthal.
Workers would carry grading tickets
The PBMBE would advise the public to only do business with Professionally Designated individuals, and graded companies, whose credentials are reflected in a Skills Passport carried by a Designated Person, verifiable on the PBMBE website. Graded companies would be verifiable by the public online.
The new board would investigate complaints against construction service providers, as many other industrial federations do.
- Source; Master Builders North. Prefabricated Access Suppliers and Manufacturers Association (Pasma).
- Dr Ivor Blumenthal is a consultant, and owner of Ark Consult, retained by Master Builders North. He is the former CEO of the Services Seta; a former law registrar; industrial psychologist intern; and national Human Resources manager. He lectured at Wits Technikon and at Greenwich University in London. Ivor was an Executive Director of Estudios Universitarios de Marbella, where he set up a Business School; CEO of the Furniture Industry Training Board; CEO of the Association of Personnel Service Organisations; and a city councillor. He is completing a Phd in Labour Relations.
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