29 June 2017
The National Federation of Builders (NFB) recently held their annual general meeting on Thursday 8 June, which saw the outgoing NFB chair, Simon Girling, director of Ipswich-based construction firm SEH French, hand the ceremonial chains of office over to Clare Watson, to mark the beginning of her twelve-month term.
The NFB has a rich heritage achieved over more than 150 years, and each year, incoming chairs welcome members and associates to a city that holds particular relevance for them to mark the occasion and uphold the tradition.
Simon has been involved as a member of the NFB for 16 years. He took up the role of chair for Suffolk in 2012 and became the eastern chair of the NFB in 2014. He is the director of SEH French, one of East Anglia’s leading construction companies with clients including the NHS, Suffolk County Council and Orwell Housing Association.
During his time as national chair, Simon has made great efforts to ensure that NFB members had access to the right support, guidance and advice, whilst addressing key issues that SMEs face within the industry. When taking the role on, he pledged to concentrate on tackling the industry wide skills shortage and ensuring fair payment for builders throughout supply chains.
While challenges continue for SMEs around fair payment, it is clear from general election manifestos released earlier this year, that efforts made during Simon’s tenure to draw attention to this topic are beginning to pay off.
In order to tackle the skills shortage, Simon focused his efforts on delivering growth with the sector, where he set out to ensure a strategic and structured approach was taken to close the skills gap in the industry, particularly after the uncertainty of the EU referendum.
Discussing his outlook on the construction industry, Simon said:
“Within the last year, we have faced uncertainty as an industry due to a range of political influences and cuts. The construction industry has struggled to develop a long-term sustainable approach on how to tackle the skills shortage. By enabling an industry approach, as opposed to a sector approach, construction would be able to offer less litigation, considered approach to skills, better efficiencies, which all in turn will create better value for the client and improved results for construction.”
There are approximately three million jobs in construction at the moment, accounting for 10% of UK employment, but there is also a shortage of skilled workers. 35,000 new workers are needed each year to meet demands.
Richard Beresford, chief executive at the NFB said:
“The NFB thanks Simon for the guidance, support, and enthusiasm he has offered during his 12 months as national chair. His commitment to both the federation and the construction industry as a whole is commendable and he has led by example with his belief that industry professionals can achieve great things when they work together.”
Simon will continue to contribute to the NFB national executive board in his capacity as past national chair.