Construction priorities, what’s next?

Construction and government Ellis Fox Blog

With a new government in place, there are high hopes that the construction sector will get the support it needs to return to growth. Indeed, many are of the opinion that government needs the built environment as much as construction and infrastructure need government. There’s a lot to fix and a lot that needs to be built. And if the government wants a different outcome from the past decade, it’s going to have to do things differently.

It’s about more than funding. What the industry needs is less red tape, more transparency and engaged collaboration.  How exactly is that going to play out?

Positively, the new government has already implemented some important changes, including reversing the ban on onshore wind projects and making key changes to the National Policy Planning Framework.  This includes adding 300 new planning officers to support local authorities and reintroducing mandatory housing targets.

The focus is said to be about more than just building more houses to meet demand. If the UK is to achieve energy resilience this won’t only be achieved through investing in renewable energy projects. Existing infrastructure needs to be improved and reducing energy demand through better insulation and retrofitting existing housing needs to be a part of that.

It’s an opportunity for the construction industry and sub-contractors that extends beyond bidding on new projects. The challenge is finding the expertise needed, given the skills shortage that remains. Almost everyone agrees that there needs to be a stimulus to increase skills and encourage school leavers to enter the construction sector. Will the new government see this as a priority?

Indications are that government recognises the skills shortage as a major constraint. However, solutions will require close collaboration with the industry. The perception of construction needs a facelift if it is to progress from trades and physical labour. The opportunities to work with emerging technologies and new materials exist, but in general, this isn’t how the general public view the industry.  Investment in skills development and apprenticeships and showcasing new technologies is essential if the built environment is to attract a new generation of skilled workers.

In this the construction and infrastructure sectors have a vital role to play. They know which skills are most needed, and can provide the opportunities for apprenticeships and career development. It’s a worthwhile investment considering the long term goal is to build up the industry.