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Rising to the sustainability challenge

The Supply Chain School is an online learning platform that has received £2.5 million from the CITB Structured Fund to improve the construction industry's ability to understand sustainability issues and innovate. 

Industry-wide learning

Funded by CITB and 50 Partner organisations the award-winning School has surprised industry experts, as Board member Dale Turner explains.

“When we began our journey with the School in 2012 many people were sceptical that major contractors could work side-by-side.

“However, the School has brought together a range of clients, consultants, contractors and supply chain to develop their sustainability knowledge.

“CITB’s funding has helped us provide a platform to create learning that’s industry-wide.”

Bespoke training

The School, which is delivered through Action Sustainability (a supply chain management service provider) has over 15,000 members. 

Members work toward a more sustainable supply chain, a target in line with the UK Construction Strategy which aims to lower costs by 33%, enable 50% faster delivery and lower emission by 50% by 2025.

When joining the School, members take part in a diagnostic process to benchmark their current levels of knowledge and establish areas for improvement. 

These areas are then targeted for contractors to work on at their own pace.

“The School has ten sustainability learning themes,” explains Dale, who is also the Director of Procurement and Supply Chain at Skanska UK.

“Each theme is assessed to see where the company’s competence sits. A bespoke action plan is then created to provide 10 key areas of training that can be accessed through the school for free. The diagnostic depends on what trade or service members deliver and ranges from beginner to expert level.”  

The assessment is confidential and members are asked to re-assess every 12 months to continually improve their “sustainability journey”. 

CITB funding allows the school to develop long term

“The CITB Flexible and Structured  funding has built on the success of the project and allowed the School to continue to invest in the development of the supply chain to meet the Construction 2025 targets of lower emissions, lower cost and faster delivery,” says Dale.

“By taking a five-year view on supporting the School,” says Dale “it will help to move to a position where we have a long-term sustainable solution of delivery through our many partners.”

CITB are part of the Governing Board that developed and maintain the School. Dale says the five-year investment CITB initially provided through its Strategic Growth Fund - £2.5m over five years - offered a long-term commitment to developing the School into specific areas, such as offsite manufacture, homes, infrastructure and facilities services sectors.

In October 2016 the School, which includes a training programme and resource library, won Best Practice Initiative at the British Construction Industry Awards.

And with 19 of the top 20 main construction contractors in the UK signed up as partners it’s clear that contractors and their supply chains are beginning to rise to the sustainability challenge.

For more information on the Supply Chain Sustainability School 


Company: Skanska UK
Sector: Supply chain
Size of company: Large

Challenge: Improve the industry's ability to understand sustainability issues and to innovate

Funding: £2.5m over five years in from the Structured fund under the ‘Infrastructure’ fund option

Impact: The platform is running successfully providing learning that’s industry-wide. 19 of the top 20 main construction contractors in the UK are signed up.

“True collaboration in the construction sector is rare so the Supply Chain School is a refreshing change, bringing real impact.”

Dale Turner, Board member, Supply Chain School