The Labour Party candidate for Newcastle upon Tyne Central, Chi Onwurah, today met with representatives of Construction Alliance Northeast (CAN) and gave her backing to its ‘Intelligent Procurement’ agenda within the region.
Stuart Miller, chair of CAN and Ken Parkin, president of the Northern Counties Builders Federation met with Ms Onwurah to discuss the regional construction industry in a brief break from her campaigning in the west end of the city.
Ms Onwurah has been a big supporter of CAN and its bid to create more of a level playing field for regional SMEs working in construction since its launch four years ago.
Also keen to address the skills shortage within the industry, where the average age of bricklayers was recently reported as being 55, CAN is pressing ahead to highlight the need for a greater focus on recruitment and retention of tradesmen as well as encouraging more young people to apply for apprenticeships in the sector. Attracting more women into the industry was also discussed, which CAN fully supports.
Commenting on the intelligent procurement agenda, which has at its heart the three values of ‘local money, local people and local growth’, Ms Onwurah is keen to bang the drum for regional organisations. She said;
“I personally feel very strongly about the need to support local companies. The construction sector plays a huge role in the region and if we get into power after the General Election, our £250 billion National Transformation Fund will be dedicated to transform the UKs creaking infrastructure including by building 1 million new homes over the next Parliament.
“The Labour Party wants to see local companies, who support local communities, delivering on these ambitious infrastructure plans so I really recognise the importance of increasing capacity within the construction sector and ensuring the skills shortage is adequately addressed. We also want to see an end to the gender pay gap and getting more women into construction could really help too. I am very much on the same page as CAN.”
Mr Parkin, added: “We were delighted to have the opportunity to meet with Chi again. She is keen to help us take the CAN message further afield and came up with a couple of good suggestions for the future, which may enable us to present our case to parliamentary groups. She is a strong ally of the regional construction sector, and I hope this meeting is just one of many we will be able to broker in the future.”
More information about Intelligent Procurement can be found online at http://www.constructionalliancenortheast.co.uk/category/news/