Happy New Year – looking back at what we achieved in 2020 and looking forward to 2021

Caroline Gumble looks back on the milestones and achievements of last year and looks ahead to some of the things the CIOB has in store for 2021.

Caroline Gumble BSc (Open)

Last updated: 6th January 2021

This time last year, I wrote about my reflections on the achievements and milestones both I and the Institute had reached, noting that I hadn’t quite been in post for 6 months. Now, after nearly 18 months with the CIOB, I’m pleased to say that despite the challenges 2020 held, there’s another set of milestones and achievements to look back on, for the Institute and the construction community.

Never could I have anticipated what my first 18 months in post would look like – but I’m pleased to say we seem to have weathered the worst of the storm and there are some fantastic CIOB things to look forward to in 2021. As we enter the New Year, I’m keen to look forward, so here are headlines for the first half of 2021 that I want to share with members and with the wider construction community.

Following my virtual world tour of CIOB Hubs, with our President Mark Beard accompanying me on the international leg, I’ve been both inspired and delighted by the local and regional work being driven by CIOB members. This is work in many different areas - supporting and attracting new talent into the industry, contributing to government working groups and the Policy Team’s consultation responses, delivering training and providing mentoring, to name just a few - which both informs and feeds into what we do and supports our work at national and international level. The strength of our network and our membership has never been more important than it was in 2020 and I’m heartened that it seems to have not just survived but thrived in the past year.

One of the many other outcomes from all those engagement meetings is a refresh of some of the Hub structures, which has been in response to member feedback. This includes the official opening of the new Highlands and Islands Hub, with an online event later this month. We have also identified a number of other emerging Hubs, with the enthusiasm and commitment among local members to drive standards up, promote professionalism and support the CIOB’s work. We will be working closely with members in Nigeria and Malta to establish their Hubs and help them develop their plans for the future.

Another important piece of member feedback on which we made much progress in 2020 is the drive to maintain our professional standards while attracting more people to join our community and commit to a career in construction. The Education Team are leading on a project, with a working group from our Education, Qualification, Standards and Practice Board, to put the idea of recognition of more qualifications and potentially a non-chartered level under the microscope. I firmly believe it’s important that we continue to challenge ourselves and make sure the door is always open to those who want to embark on a career in construction. Around spring in 2021 you’re likely to see the results of some of this work and some changes to CIOB membership that will help many new people join us without losing the rigour of our qualifications that we so passionately maintain.

I am also looking forward to the next piece of work to come from the CIOB’s Quality Implementation Group - a “Guide to Quality Management in Construction” is being released later this month. This document, which has been underpinned by our previous work on quality initiatives, brings a real focus to how quality in construction is achieved, with a framework outlining the steps to improve, maintain and sustain good construction quality management.

This is, of course, just one of the outputs from our years of work to examine the issue of quality in construction. 2021 will see us take what we have learned, share what we’ve done and continue to try to influence the industry and policymakers and contribute to conversations around the future of building control, potential changes to the rules on sprinklers in schools and the Fire Safety Bill.

The third highlight of our early 2021 activities is the exciting plan of events, some new, some well-established conferences, now accessible via online platforms to an even wider audience. I am excited about a brand-new event planned for March on the theme of “adapt and thrive”, to focus on post-pandemic changes and what we learned in 2020. We also have our annual conservation conference to look forward to in April. And, of course, our CMYA celebration towards the end of year – and if you think it’s too soon to get excited about that, bear in mind that entries open later this month and we already know there will some amazing projects lead by some incredible people in the running this year. 

As ever, I very much want to thank all the members who helped us along the way in 2020 – and a thank you in advance to all the members who will work with us in 2021 to serve our sector and support those who create the built environment around us.

Happy New Year – here’s to 2021!