Same Team, Same Frailties

I am writing this the morning after the England football team predictably crashed out of the World Cup (again) so please forgive me for the football analogies and the barely concealed disappointment.

Back in 2020, the England team failed to capitalise on home advantage and lost in the final of the UEFA European Championships to Italy. It is interesting to note that England lost on penalties; that the team had been dull to watch throughout; that the captain and main goal-scorer Harry Kane had been largely missing in action. Team manager Gareth Southgate, a former defender, had assembled a defensive team despite the fact this defence was by far the team’s greatest weakness. Ultimately, that team failed to beat the best in Europe.

Fast forward to the 2022 World Cup and the same manager puts out largely the same team expecting a different result against the very best in the world. Once again, the team fell victim to its inability to score from the penalty spot. Once again, the team’s defensive frailties were laid bare. The manager can apparently choreograph a beautifully-synchronised taking of the knee but cannot bring the same degree of diligence to a defensive line seemingly made from Swiss cheese. Gareth Southgate – a man who perceives a 0 – 0 draw as a victory and a 3 – 0 victory as a flamboyant anomaly – once again stuck to his guns, keeping players with flair, dynamism and desire on the bench while trotting out a team that is at its most comfortable playing sideways.

I am sure you’re wondering what all this has to do with demolition and construction.

Well, as we reported last week, the industry now has a shiny new acronym to remember – The PSRO (Plant Sector Representative Organisation) has been created to apparently bring some semblance of professionalism to the bloated, over-priced, overly-complex and overly-bureaucratic system of training and the multiple associated competence card schemes.

Unfortunately, as many in the industry have pointed out, the new-fangled PSRO borrows much from the Gareth Southgate school of management. It has basically assembled the same team of people that have continually and consistently failed to deliver a training regime that is fair, sensible and competitively priced for years or decades, stuck them in a new shirt, and sent them out again with genuine hopes of success.

For anyone that doesn’t follow football, let me put that another way. Imagine you’re playing poker and you have been dealt the worst hand imaginable (I don’t play so I don’t know what that might look like). You could shuffle that hand to change the order of the cards but you still have a terrible hand. And bluff will only get you so far.

And so, while the England team heads for the airport and I head off to watch the conclusion of the 2022 World Cup without them but thankfully WITH levels of skill, flair, excitement and attack that Gareth Southgate would probably consider unseemly, I am left to ponder about the training and competence card scheme that has been so lacking for so long.

Is the scheme broken because organising multiple trades, multiple skills and even more multiple cards is like herding cats. Possibly. Or is the system broken because someone (or multiple someones) like it that way.