The skills campaign being led by Finishes and Interiors Sector (FIS) is trying to change how our sector is perceived. The initiative offers a dynamic and flexible way to support specialist contractors source a skilled workforce. Making the finishes and interiors sector an attractive career option will be a vital component to encourage new entrants in.

Equally, ensuring that those already in the labour pool have the right skills and qualifications to stay active in the sector is also critical. Inside this issue, we take a look at the journey one BuildBack graduate has followed.

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower disaster, the initial government inquiry found that some products were not fit for purpose. In the case of fire doors, five different suppliers’ products failed fire safety tests and were withdrawn from the market. FIS has been driving a new initiative that helps specialist contractors to provide the clear evidence of compliance and competence needed.

Pinning down the performance of products is complicated when products don’t do exactly what they say on the tin. In our technical feature, we learn how increasing emphasis on the acoustic performance of buildings and how the industry should respond to this growing demand is essential to ensure product accountability and reliability.

As far back as the first Latham Report of the 1980s, clients challenged over-engineered designs and specifications as unnecessarily costly and complex. Cost pressures then encouraged a culture of lowest price and de-value engineering. Perception at the time was that performance and installation would not suffer.

In some cases, performance did not suffer, but in others, the unintended consequences led to serious failings. Then, when something goes wrong, we look for someone to blame. We now know that everyone in the supply chain has a responsibility, and it will be those organisations that can demonstrate that their people, their processes and the products they use are robust and totally trustworthy that will survive and flourish.

It has to become clear that responsibility for the design and specification sits with the client but performance remains at the heart of how our sector is perceived.

Adrian JG Marsh