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Business / Construction association chief impressed after visit to isles

THE CHIEF executive of the world’s largest professional body for construction management and leadership has lavished praise on a local housing association after visiting Shetland.

Caroline Gumble, who leads the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), said Hjaltland Housing Association “seem to be trending about 20 years ahead of most other housing associations”.

“The tenants are very lucky to have that quality of care by the housing association,” she said.

CIOB chief Caroline Gumble.

Gumble was part of a CIOB team that spent a couple of days in the isles.

The charity – which lists its core values as public interest, quality and safety – has 47,000 members worldwide, which around 30 local members.

“Shetland is important as anywhere else,” Gumble said. “For you to have professionally qualified construction teams working here on the island is critical.

“You’re suffering enormous skill shortages, and it’s really, really important that those you do have are absolute professionals.”

During the trip the team met up with local firm E&H Building Contractors as well as representatives from Shetland islands Council – and they also managed a visit to the Viking Energy wind farm construction site.

When it came to Viking, Gumble said she was impressed by the “care the team there are taking to work with islanders”.

“I know there was some opposition, and there always will be when you do something like that, but ethically for the environment it’s absolutely the direction we have to take in the world,” she added.

Also on the agenda was a seminar at Mareel about the importance of quality construction – and communicating this to everyone who is working on projects.

It discussed using TikTok-style short videos as new ways of promoting the importance of quality jobs.

More generally Gumble highlighted that over the Covid pandemic the construction industry has continued – albeit with extra conditions.

“What’s causing us problems now is the very fast paced price increases, and certainly looking from a UK perspective, Brexit is putting a greater pressure on the pressure from the lack of skills,” she added.

Explaining the role of the CIOB, Gumble described it as the professional institute for the built environment.

“We support professionals in the construction sector to keep their skills relevant and to work and to behave in an ethical way,” she said.

“Ultimately we are here for public interest – we are a charity, so public interest is our purpose. We happen to operate it through individuals becoming our members, becoming qualified.”