I had no idea when my construction journey started that I would one day be writing this: today we agreed a £1.3m initiative that has the most fundamental of aims, to connect those that are out of work with an industry full of opportunity, and to do so in the most collaborative means possible.

SkillsPlanner went live today. It is a data platform that will allow stakeholders within an industry or sector to share current and future employment needs, facilitating collaborative planning, training and brokerage to meet the industry’s requirements. We have over 30 organisations already involved and the premise is very simple: share your skills supply AND demand data, do so collaboratively using Linked Data (it’s not a database, nor a report that will sit on a shelf), and join other passionate people that want to build a platform that is for use by industry, by training providers, by councils and by job brokers.

SkillsPlanner will one day be free for individuals and it is being built today by those that will use it tomorrow – and in 2050.

Yes, it is a hugely ambitious project. But the reason I’m doing it is because this is one amazing industry, full of opportunity, and it is crying out for workers. But the workers aren’t being trained with the skills employers need. And everybody knows this. And the image of the industry is poor. And everybody knows this. And there are pockets of exceptionally good practice, that not enough people know about. But the industry is fragmented and the challenge is just oh, so big.

BUT if you can get the right passionate people around the table, telling us, for example, that data needs to be standardised to reflect competencies and qualifications, giving time to share their expertise and knowledge and working on this data collaboratively, then together we can do something amazing. We will build SkillsPlanner TOGETHER. We will spend time doing it properly, in collaboration with anyone that cares about those that are unemployed, about those being trained in the wrong areas, about an industry that could be so much more to so many more people.

Come and join us. We’re going to do something amazing.