The number 2020 tends to conjure up thoughts of perfect (twenty twenty) vision, so it is almost ironic that, the immediate future feels less clearthan usual. As we enter a new decade, Brexit still dominates the headlines, the priorities of our new government are not wholly clear, we have some fundamental trust issues to address in construction and there is a lack of clarity around many
pivotal investments.

Despite the backdrop of uncertainty there is work out there and at FIS our mission is clear, it is to get members specifi ed, work with members to set standards, get our best practice advice embedded in specifications (to improve quality and make our members lives easier), help where we can manage day-to-day issues and to provide a collective hub to solve common problems and highlight opportunities.

People matters remain our top priority. Firstly we must ensure that individuals in our workforce in the fi nishes and interiors sector are competent to do the job. Our Working Groups are all now at various stages of developing competency frameworks to test and developing training tools to support improvement. Wherever we can, we are looking at what we can do to standardise supervision and share best practice in this fi eld. At the same time, we need that (diverse) pipeline of new blood and we have the Fit-out Futures programme shaping how we recruit and induct more effectively and looking at how we work more closely with training providers to address fundamental failings in provision.

Process is number two on our list. There has been a lot of review following Grenfell, we have some new legislation in place and more changes in regulation and enforcement to come, but we mustn’t wait for this, we need to start to change now, to fi nd ways to work together as a supply chain more effectively.

Through our Working Groups we are targeting improvements in productivity through reducing re-work. This is not just about what we can do better, but carrying the concerns of our members up the supply chain, looking at the key drivers of safety, quality, occupational health and sustainability to ensure we all collaborate more effectively and start to deliver the marginal gains required.

We can’t talk about process without referencing culture. How much of what we do remains undermined by wrangling over variation, stressing over credit and tying ourselves up in knots with contracts that do not share or accurately reflect the risk individuals carry? 2020 brings a new government and with it we need a fresh approach. Without doubt some behaviours will change over time, but to elicit rapid and effective improvement we simply have to stop awarding contracts to companies who treat their supply chain with contempt!

Engagement with and promotion of members is another top priority for FIS. In the final quarter of 2019 we launched our new website, you will see further improvements to this during 2020 in terms of how it presents information and crucially how it projects our members. We will also be working closely with our new partner organisation Barbour ABI to extend our digital reach. Our new webinar programme too is aimed at helping break stuff down and make it more accessible and we will continue to run Regional Contractor Forums (which have been very well received and provided excellent input into our programme).

Our final priority is to be primed and ready for change, to ensure that we are clear about how Brexit and any new legislation will impact you, ensure that you are briefed on changes to employment legislation coming through in April, new interpretations of Product Safety Regulations and how they will impact contractors and suppliers, changes to training and apprenticeship funding and of
course the introduction of Reverse Charge VAT coming through in October – we’ll be dusting off the toolkit again this month!

So whilst I don’t have 2020 vision, I can say with certainty, FIS and our colleagues at SpecFinish will continue to keep all channels of communication open, continue to build on our FIS Product Process People approach to quality, continue to provide deeper support to measure and manage competency and carry on keeping you up to speed on innovation in and around our sector.