Headlines: April 20th, 2004

There needs to be a cultural change in the skills, behaviours, knowledge and training of more than 100 occupations involved in delivering sustainable communities. This is the key message from the Egan Skills Review which was set up to look at skills needed by built environment professionals to deliver the Sustainable Communities Plan. The Task Group, headed by Sir John Egan, included people with backgrounds in housing and commercial development, retail, planning, regional and local government, social housing, environment and process re-engineering,The Task Group found that the current approach was, in many cases, failing to deliver the priorities in the Government’s Sustainable Communities Plan and that systems are falling to provide what people want. In order to turn the situation around a new approach is needed with new skills, and new ways of working. This will involve changing the attitude, behaviour and knowledge of everyone involved. The Group recommends cultural change in professional skills and training. This would involve such innovations as planners interacting with highways engineers, environmental officers teaming up urban designers, and developers engaging with community groups.

In response to the Review findings, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has supported the setting up of a new National Centre for Sustainable Communities to drive forward the commitment to thriving sustainable communities. The Centre will develop world class generic skills, identify skills gaps, review education and training available for core occupations, and encourage more entrants into these professions. It will be supported by a taskforce made up of a range of professional institutions, national organisations and skills bodies representing the core occupations involved.

The Task Group also recommended that local councils should have the lead role for co-ordinating and orchestrating delivery of sustainable communities, through bringing together service providers and other key players with the local community.