Greater collaboration will bring us closer to net zero, MSP Monica Lennon tells construction industry leaders at SELECT President’s Lunch

Greater collaboration between politicians and Scotland’s construction industry is vital to reach the goal of net zero, MSP Monica Lennon told guests of SELECT, Scotland’s largest construction trade association.

In a keynote speech to the campaigning body’s annual flagship event, Ms Lennon also highlighted the outstanding work undertaken by the construction sector in building communities across Scotland.

The Labour MSP for Central Scotland, who is Convener of the Cross-Party Group on Construction, made her comments at the second SELECT President’s Lunch, sponsored by Electrium, at the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow.

Ms Lennon – a leading member of the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee – told guests: “Net zero offers huge challenges, but it is a journey we cannot avoid. We need to create an open dialogue between politicians, the construction industry and society as a whole to ensure we have the right skills to reach our objective.

“We don’t necessarily have all the answers and we need space to figure it out, but by working collaboratively we can overcome the challenges of reaching net zero to fight the global climate emergency, since the price of not doing so will be much higher. In all of this, organisations like SELECT have massive role to play.”

The politician – who worked for over a decade as a chartered town planner – also highlighted SELECT’s ongoing drive for protection of title and said she had been shocked to learn that anyone can call themselves an “electrician” without any training or proven skills and can then undertake dangerous electrical work in people’s homes.

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She said: “I fully support SELECT’s regulation campaign and have urged colleagues in the Parliament to continue to do so.”

In an acknowledgement of the Scottish construction industry, Ms Lennon went on to praise its work in building communities across Scotland. She said: “The work the construction industry does, year in year out, in building communities for our constituents is hugely appreciated, but we do not say thank you enough.

“Whether in creating new homes, driving innovation, providing opportunities for our young people to enjoy highly skilled, well-paid work, and stressing the importance of a safe working environment, it is the construction sector that lights a path for everyone.”

SELECT Managing Director Alan Wilson, who introduced the event on Friday 29 September, said: “We were pleased that Monica was able to join us as we discuss how best we can make a lasting contribution to the development of all our communities across Scotland.

“We very much appreciate, and echo, her call for greater collaboration across all sections of Scottish society, government, the civil service, business, and the trade unions to enhance the quality of our contribution to the great challenges of the future.

“We acknowledged there are no easy answers and that it is not always easy to persuade the public that while there may be additional costs to be borne in reaching net zero our generation has an obligation to our children and theirs to achieve our  goal.”

The event was also addressed by SELECT President Alistair Grant who, with the association’s Director of Employment and Skills, Fiona Harper, presented the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award to Alick Smith.

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After starting out as an electrical apprentice in the 1960s, Alick has enjoyed a long and distinguished career and in recent years has played a key role at SELECT as lead negotiator in its wage discussions with the industry trade union, Unite.

  • A full report on the President’s Lunch, including images, will appear in the upcoming edition of SELECT’s stakeholder magazine, cabletalk.