In early-2014, the CQI Construction Special Interest Group (ConSIG) reached a consensus that one of the greatest barriers to the achievement of ‘quality’ in construction is a lack of awareness of the value and practices of quality management. A key element of our remit as a SIG of the the CQI is to improve the performance of organisations by developing their capability in quality management.
In response to this challenge the ConSIG established a Working Group for the purpose of developing a competence framework for quality professionals in the construction arena. As a consequence the Working Group quickly identified the need for a structured training approach not just at operations level – but at all business and project levels.
The Working Group set up the ‘Construction Quality Awareness’ work stream for the purpose of identifying a standard framework for the development of courses for the construction industry that could facilitate a joined up approach for adoption by industry bodies and organisations.
In mid-2014, a brainstorm session identified a wide range of topics that ought to be included in the framework. In late-2014, ConSIG members were asked, via a simplistic Survey Monkey poll, which quality topics should be included in prospective courses for directors, managers, engineers, supervisors and operatives.
As a number of industry organisations have independently developed their own quality training courses to this effect, however, the general view of ConSIG members was that a common approach would be better for the industry overall and is required to ensure consistency in the quality message being communicated across the value chain.
A wide-ranging discussion of the potential structure, format and content of quality training settled upon the analogy of IOSH’s and CITB’s Health & Safety courses that provide a graduated range of awareness training modules for construction personnel.
Courses such as IOSH Managing Safely, IOSH Supervising Safely, and CITB Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS), provide a basis for setting, maintaining and assessing H&S standards for training and driving continual improvement.
For any given role there must be an appropriate level of competence with respect to both technical competence as well as Health & Safety competence. For example, a discipline expert generally requires a greater level of competence in relation to H & S aspects but less technical knowledge and vice versa for project managers. See Figure 1.
Figure 1: HSE vs Technical Competence Level corresponding to role
The proposed Quality Awareness training framework is intended to facilitate an industry wide recognised qualification specific to quality equivalent to that in Health & Safety.
Consequently, just as it is the aspiration that the Construction Industry achieves appropriate Health & Safety leadership, behaviours and culture, the aim of the ConSIG is to provide a foundation for:
- Quality leadership within the context of role
- Quality culture across construction projects and within construction organisations
- The right behaviours to bring about Right First Time, Defect Free, Excellence and reduce errors.
The syllabus of each course is based on a Quality Awareness Course Framework developed by the ConSIG CWG whose members include senior construction quality professionals representing major UK Construction Industry organisations.
A Framework for Quality Awareness training courses was developed through 2016 and 2017 via workshops attended by members of the ConSIG CWG. This proposal is for a graduated range of quality awareness training course profiles and course, targeting the following groups:
- Quality Awareness for Directors
- Quality Awareness for Managers
- Quality Awareness for Engineers
- Quality Awareness for Supervisors
- Quality Awareness for Operatives
The Framework was approved by the ConSIG CWG and the syllabus for the Supervisors’ Quality Awareness Course subsequently developed as an example as well as a draft outline of each of the courses suggested courses.
The draft document with the syllabus for the Supervisors Quality Awareness Course was sent to a number of key construction companies for comment during July 2017. Feedback to date has been very positive.
Future development could be extended to cover more specialised professional groups which may include the following:
- Quality Awareness for Clients
- Quality Awareness for Designers
- Commercial Quality Awareness
The content, duration and verification regime for the courses would be developed to be very similar to IOSH Directing / Managing / Working Safely and CITB’s SMSTS courses that have become embedded in construction. This approach has several advantages, for example, directors and managers are familiar with the type/style of the courses, and HR teams are familiar with the planning and graduated director/manager/supervisor/worker levels of the courses.
To facilitate an industry recognised qualification such as IOSH Managing Safely, each course will need to be approved by an appropriate industry body. Training providers may also be required to be approved by the industry body to deliver training. For example, the Chartered Quality Institute or CITB offer a mechanism for courses whereby Approved Training Partners deliver courses which have been verified to meet relevant standards.
To provide flexibility, the courses are designed to be delivered by means such as the following:
- ‘Off the Shelf’: The services of a training provider would be procured to deliver a generic accredited courses.
- Bespoke Organisation Course: An organisation may use the syllabus to develop a bespoke training course for their in house needs that meets the minimum requirements of the syllabus.
- Bespoke Course delivered by organisation trainers: An organisation may use the syllabus to develop a bespoke training course for their supply chain which meets the minimum requirements of the syllabus.
Having set out the concept and published the framework proposal setting out a comprehensive approach for standardising quality training across the construction industry, the ConSIG have concluded that the work stream has successfully achieved its mission. The ConSIG is now offering to liaise with other industry bodies to develop further.
The draft proposal document for the Quality Awareness courses can be downloaded from here.
An example of the proposed syllabus for a supervisors quality awareness course can be downloaded from here.
An article providing a more detailed explanation can be downloaded from here.
The work to date has been championed by (alphabetically): Helen Ball, Mike Buss, Paul Greenwood, Tony Hoyle, Louise Jones, Karen McDonald, Neil Mellor, Ian Mills, and David Myers.