Exciting Times Ahead for the UK Construction Industry
The construction sector here in the UK is an important part of our economy, around 9% of the total, whilst it employs around 10% of Britain’s workforce. The product of the construction industry is the built environment, which supports and enables the services that drive around 43% of the country’s economy, from rail to road, from offices to factories.
Despite this, the way in which we produce buildings has not changed much in more than 40 years, and the sector itself operates by mobilising a skilled workforce of expert construction professionals. This means that the costs are related to the number of people (the construction industry is very labour intensive compared with other sectors), and the quality is related to how skilled those workers are. This is worrying news as the UK workforce is ageing and the skills shortage in construction is worsening, despite several initiatives aimed at remedying that situation.
One way in which the government is addressing the challenges faced by the UK construction industry is with Sector Deals, partnerships between government and a range of UK industries on sector specific issues that can create opportunities to increase productivity, employment, innovation and skills.
The Construction Sector Deal is an agreement between the UK government and the Construction Leadership Council to transform the productivity of the sector in order to benefit the economy as a whole. With construction being one of the largest sectors in our economy (with an annual turnover of £370 billion), it contributes £138 billion in value added to the UK economy and employs 3.1 million workers.
The Construction Sector Deal was created in order to increase productivity in the construction sector through more investment in innovation and skills. It is hoped that this will create new (well paid) jobs in our sector and maximise the export potential. This should also lower the impact on the environment of construction activities, improve efficiency and reduce the whole life cost of new projects and buildings.
The construction industry operates in every region in the UK and affects all of our lives. These construction activities are fundamental to our economy as Britain invests in the future to build homes for us to live in, schools and hospitals that we rely on and the offices and factories where we work. The transport and energy infrastructures keep our homes running smoothly and grease the wheels of industry all across the land.
We are currently poised at the dawn of some of the most ambitious construction programmes in history, from providing many more affordable homes in places where people want to live, to infrastructure projects like Crossrail and Heathrow’s third runway. This will lead to a spend of more than £600 billion over the next ten years, £44 billion of which will be dedicated to housing. We need a modern, efficient construction industry in order to deliver on these projects.
The UK is also at the vanguard of one of the biggest industrial opportunities ever, the transformation to adopting cleaner economic growth in order to conquer the environmental challenges we now face. The government’s Clean Growth Grand Challenge aims to maximise the advantages for industry in the UK, including a mission to halve the energy use of new builds by 2030.