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Building a Better Future for the Construction Industry

The Construction Alliance blog
Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Construction 2025 - Our Survival in Our Hands

Industry and Government recently launched the 2025 strategic plan for construction setting out a vision for how they can together make Britain a global construction leader.

But what makes this improvement strategy so different to other industry actions plans like the Latham and Egan initiatives and, what is its relevance to us in our individual companies?

Construction 2025 is quite different to what has come before. It sets out far-reaching ambitions on sustainability, efficiency, and international growth. Its ethos, culture and delivery approach are fundamentally different.

For starters, this is the first time we’ve seen a joint government and industry strategy for growth. Both private sector and central government recognise the challenges ahead of us and that any solution requires a joint and collaborative response.

It’s also the first time we’ve had a Leadership Council driving the strategy. Past strategies have been left to single organisations to promote and there has been no coordinated approach to embedding new ideas or creating a focus.

And this is the first time an eminent report has been published at the bottom of the economic cycle when organisations are desperately looking for answers to problems within the environments in which they operate which they are struggling to solve. This recession has also reduced many companies’ capacity making it difficult for them solve these problems without external and coordinated help.

Pressures forcing industry change
There are enormous changes unfolding in our current business environment which we can’t control or direct, and we are only just beginning to recognise their implications. These include the way people value our services and what they expect from us. Education and skills are changing too – we need new skills-sets and expertise within our teams to stay competitive.

IT and communications are changing at lightning speed. Our managers must deal with significantly more information and make faster decisions. Construction practices too are different to what they were just a few years ago. There is a greater drive for buildings to be more sustainable and energy efficient and to deliver better acoustic and thermal performance. We now work within tighter financial constraints, from the banks and HMRC.  The general all-round tolerances in which our businesses operate are getting tighter.

Working smarter

I know that in my own regional business we are facing a hugely competitive and rapidly changing environment and that our only solutions (and working harder and longer is not one of them) involve working smarter. Smarter for us covers a range of initiatives:  it means working with our suppliers to provide our customers with better value. It means working with our people to give them the knowledge and skills to plan better and innovate and implement new ideas and processes. It means trying to find the next generation of managers and operatives that our business needs to succeed. We do this by organising our own school visits and work experience programme, and by trying to retain a high level of trainees and apprentices.

Construction 2025 is a strategy for our industry, but its strength lies in the fact that organisations can use it to identify the actions that they need to take to survive and succeed, and the necessary commercial strategies such as BIM and fairness in supply chain payments they need to embrace to give them competitive advantage.

One of the most important themes of Construction 2025 is collaboration. This is vital within supply chains if we are to maximise innovation in both processes and products. Collaboration will be essential between our organisations that represent our individual sectors if we are to improve our industry image and tackle longer-term issues such as clarity in the demand for our skills and enforcing common standards throughout the industry.

If our industry is to deliver its strategy then individual organisations will need to identify this call to arms. They will need to mobilise their teams to work towards the objectives laid out in Construction 2025 and they will need to recognise that to do nothing will be tantamount to commercial suicide. They must support the forums and organisations that promote collaboration as not only many of the long- term sustainable answers can only come from these groups, but these organisations are well placed to support their members through the changes ahead. All this and more will need to be done in the interest of creating long term profits for our own companies and the industry as a whole.

- Mark Wakeford, Construction Alliance Chair

posted by The Construction Alliance : 11:17


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