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In Conversation with Tony Kay, president, Northern Counties Builders Federation

What are the main aims of Northern Counties Builders Federation (NCBF)?

The NCBF is a long-established trade association bringing together construction companies and contractors operating in the North East of England.

As a membership organisation, we are proactive in raising the profile of our regional members, supporting training and apprenticeships and helping to future-proof the North East construction industry.

What is your role?

As President, I have over 35 years’ worth of experience in the construction sector and, along with our board, my role is to represent our industry and its members, who continue to face challenging times, whilst playing a major role within the regional economy.

As a collective, our role is to help facilitate the development and maintenance of a sustainable North East construction industry. We want to continue to provide a voice to SMEs in the region, offer careers advice, support the upskill of employees and trade apprenticeships, to highlight that the construction sector offers long term careers.

As president, I am keen to see our sector thrive and we continue to support linked member organisations, Constructing Excellence in the North East, Generation for Change (G4C) and Construction Alliance North East (CAN).

What are the biggest challenges facing your members and the construction sector?

There continues to be difficulties in procurement models used by local authorities which seem to benefit national contractors. We need to continue to champion regional companies so they are not excluded from the procurement process. This is very much where Construction Alliance North East (CAN) comes to the forefront in supporting regional contractors to share one voice and to develop a structure to support local procurement.

Northern Counties Builders Federation is one of four organisations which make up CAN including Civil Engineering Contractors Association, the Federation of Master Builders and the National Federation of Builders.

The construction sector is also facing a skills gap. We need to attract more young people and change the perception of construction. There needs to be more careers advice at school level which promotes a more modern, inclusive and realistic outlook of what a career in construction can offer.

What is your proudest business achievement?

I started out in the industry as a quantity surveyor and have progressed my career over the years. As well as being president of the NCBF, I am a director at Classic Masonry and Bespoke Concrete. Due to the nature of my work, I take great pleasure in attention to detail and the proudest career moment to date has to be project managing an equestrian statue on behalf of the Queen within Windsor Great Park.

Do you have any upcoming events or initiatives?

Yes. The NCBF recently sponsored the regional G4C Awards. G4C is the young professional voice of the UK built environment and an integral part of Constructing Excellence. Developing and nurturing the skillset of our future workforce is crucial to the NCBF. As such, we were keen to show our ongoing support for the G4C Awards as headline sponsor.

We are also hosting a joint event with Hartlepool College, inviting SMEs to meet the future generation of trade workers about to enter the construction sector. The event is taking place on 6 June at 10.30am.

This is an excellent opportunity for students to meet with potential employers as they take the first steps in to working life and there will also be plenty of opportunity for business owners working within North East construction to network.

What do you think are the opportunities going forward?

There is a greater appreciation that the delivery of projects has to involve more connection with local communities. There is no better route than the connection with regional contractors.


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