Just a few weeks ago the Construction Products Association downgraded its predicted growth forecast of 2.3% for 2019 to an almost flatlining 0.6%. They also warn that the revised figure depends on the Government extending Help to Buy and progressing its infrastructure plans.
There are many ways to improve the construction sector, but addressing these 3 key priorities effectively would help to boost growth this year:
Fix Brexit one way or another
There is no doubt that the uncertainty around Brexit runs throughout every business sector but the effect on UK construction is significant. It has eroded investor confidence resulting in many projects being put on hold or cancelled. The new office construction sector has felt the sharpest decline of 10% this year, expected to double to 20% in 2019. The market needs a solution to the Brexit conundrum one way or another to bring back some confidence and encourage new projects.
Until the Government delivers that certainty it is impossible for businesses to plan effectively. The potential impact on labour shortages, loss of EU funding for major projects and movement of construction materials is huge. Businesses can plan and adapt to change but only if they know what the change will be.
If ever there was a time to focus on improving productivity in the sector it must surely be now when predicted growth is almost zero and margins are small. The obvious way to improve growth in the UK construction sector is to become more efficient, making cost overruns and delays the exception.
We need to release the expertise of the specialists in the supply chain through better collaboration and early contractual involvement. This would create the platform to adapt to better ways of working across the entire supply chain.
A skilled workforce
While there has been much talk of Brexit’s impact on skills, the reality is that there has been a steadily increasing demand for skills since 2007. Earlier this year the Government announced a £22 million initiative to bring training to construction sites. All well and good but the key to success is education. More needs to be done in schools and colleges to educate and inform pupils and their parents about what a career in construction can look like. Yes, the skills shortage is a national crisis that is restricting growth in the sector, but it’s also an opportunity to influence the future of the sector and create a new generation of skilled workforce that know how to deliver a project on time and budget.