Dame Judith Hackitt’s Praise on Competency Welcomed by LABC

SPEAKING AT the Local Government Association’s sixth national construction conference in London on 7 February 2019, Dame Judith Hackitt singled out the leadership and work of LABC in changing the way it operates and its focus on competency.

Dame Judith said: “I am particularly impressed at the leadership that’s been shown by LABC in this area.  I think they are up with the best in terms of being committed to making the change.  And I’m particularly impressed with the way in which they’ve taken on board some of my comments about how they need to change the way they assess their own competencies.  I think they’ve done really well.”

LABC Deputy Chief Executive, Lorna Stimpson

Responding LABC Deputy Chief Executive, Lorna Stimpson, said: “We respect and support the Government’s pre-Christmas announcement adopting all of Dame Judith’s proposals.  LABC and our members also fully back her recommendations which is why we decided very early on to completely review all aspects of what we do – including competency.

“I am pleased Dame Judith has acknowledged this work as it has not been straightforward. It has been hard because it has taken leadership, a lot of investment and, most importantly, honesty.

“LABC processes now don’t rely on self-declaration or peer-to-peer audits.  For example, the organisation asked its most senior surveyors to self-declare whether they were competent to work on high rise, higher risk buildings.  Almost 1,100 said they were, but this is no longer enough for us.  To prove their competency LABC went to an independent body – the Institution of Fire Engineers – to create an exam.

“It’s not an easy exam and not everybody is passing.  I don’t believe that is because our top surveyors are particularly poor.  My view is simple – in many construction-related professions CPD and professional learning has been too lax.  Many people practising would be shocked if given a proper test.

Musical chairs
“I have not heard of other institutions, industry bodies or trade organisations challenging themselves and their members in the way we have.

“To me there’s a danger they are going round in circles, talking about ethics, but not openly challenging themselves.  Too many people associated with the old system simply want to play ‘musical chairs’ without addressing the problems.

“LABC doesn’t believe in this and understands if we are to take an enhanced regulatory role in the new system, then we must justify that role and the responsibilities that go with it.  And that is what we are fully intending to do,” Lorna concluded.

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