A Confidence Boost for the Construction Industry

A Confidence Boost for the Construction Industry

30th August 2016

Here at Safety Fabrications we keep an eye on all the news and new developments in the construction industry here in the UK so that we can keep our readers well informed and up to date with the sector as a whole.  This week we’ve come across some rather welcome positive news which may go a long way towards settling any misgivings being experienced in the industry right now.  There have been plenty of negative predictions and expectations in the wake of June’s shock Brexit vote, with industry pundits warning of a resulting economic catastrophe as investors choose to turn elsewhere in Europe as Britain comes to terms with how it will deal with trade and industry matters in the future. 

A recent BBC interview with Olivier Brousse, Chief Executive of John Laing Group (an international investor and manager of infrastructure projects) is presenting a much more positive view of the future of the construction industry here in the UK.  According to Brousse, international investors still see Britain as a great place to invest and when asked if he thought appetite for investment had dimmed in the wake of the Brexit vote, he had this to say:

“I don’t think so. Obviously Brexit has created more uncertainty. But if there are new projects and new decisions by the government, investment will follow.”

He does warn, however, that Theresa May, the new Prime Minster, will need to make a firm commitment to infrastructure projects, especially as Britain is faced with a growing population which will need increased urbanisation in the future.  Brousse reckons that the government is not currently announcing enough new projects and that this will have to change in order to protect the levels of inward investment in years to come.

This view was recently backed up by the boss of the UKs largest building company, Balfour Beatty.  Chief Executive, Leo Quinn, urges the Prime Minister to end the dithering over when new infrastructure projects will begin, especially the Hinkley nuclear power station and airport expansion in the South East of Britain.  Quinn calls for clarity around infrastructure spending and government policy in order to provide the construction industry with the confidence and comfort necessary to face the future with a positive attitude.  He fears that any more delays will lead to skilled workers leaving the industry and a recession taking hold.  He’s voiced concerns that a recession will lead to layoffs which will then make it difficult to maintain capability within the construction sector in terms of skills and the workforce.  If people are laid off due to a downturn, it would be difficult to get them to return to the industry in future and that represents a very real loss of capability.

At a time when the construction industry is already facing a serious skills shortage, the government would benefit from taking these views into account as it develops the policies and plans that will take us into the future.  The number of contractors expecting their workloads to increase over the next 12 months has fallen according to the latest trade surveys so giving the industry the confidence boost necessary to counteract such negative thinking is vital if we want to keep the sector strong.