Construction success Ellis Fox Blog

What could stop it from being the ‘Year of Construction’ in the UK?

The figures for February are in and for the first time in 4 years the construction industry can breathe a collective sigh of relief. With the PMI increasing to 52.6 from January figures of 48.4 it is good news indeed. With new orders up it could be a sign that the industry is finally emerging from its slump. But is it too soon to start popping the champagne? Perhaps, as there are still some immediate challenges ahead.

The feedback from the industry is that the growth would have been even higher had they not have to contend with severe weather as a result of Storms Ciara and Dennis. But the industry should be wary of using this as an excuse for a drop in productivity figures. These aren’t going to be the last of the extreme weather events. Indeed, if the climate scientists are correct, nature is only just getting started. If main contractors want to build on the momentum from February’s upswing they’re going to need to make contingency plans for extreme weather events and mitigate for those production losses, otherwise the growth figures are going to fall flat.

Another unknown is if the Coronovirus pandemic will have an impact on the UK’s construction industry. Just this last week it was reported that a construction worker at Hinkley Point C tested positive for the Coronovirus. This is a concern considering it’s a construction site of more than 4500 workers. It highlights the need to screen workers, which is costly and time consuming. Even if no more cases of the virus are found, it is still likely to impact productivity.

Then there is the issue highlighted in a previous article: Lets do more with less workers. The new immigration bill, which as it stands, is set to have a major impact on the construction workforce as well as the availability of independent EU subcontractors.

It is good to hear some positive news in the construction industry for a change and it’s encouraging to see the industry off to a significantly better start in 2020. However, construction management is going to have their hands full mitigating for these additional challenges while trying to push for better output and revenue in 2020.

What are the key elements that need to be considered and what strategies may help the industry build on the good start experienced in February so that it can achieve long term success?