Since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, the construction industry has been at the forefront of sectors affected. Issues with supply chains, price hikes and site closures left the industry in a difficult position. However, from late 2021 to now, things quickly got back on track and many companies were experiencing strong growth – driven by an eagerness to return to pre-pandemic levels of income and work.
Whilst we can still expect to see prices increase and supply chain uncertainty continue, there are steps companies can take to harness the proven resilience of the sector and build a sustainable future. At every level in the supply chain, companies will be making steps to increase efficiencies and protect margins. To support this and keep the sector buoyant, we are seeing a strong desire for people to return to work and normality.
The latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), put growth at 2% in December 2021 with the level of construction output at 0.3% above pre-pandemic levels. Repairs and maintenance work have seen the most growth, with a 7% increase on output levels in February 2020.
With the strong growth in a post-pandemic world, it’s important to acknowledge that although this is positive, decision makers must look at updating processes and services to be more sustainable and climate conscious, to support growth. What’s needed is an overhaul of processes and re-assessment of methods that have the potential to become outdated, or even scrapped, in years to come.
To harness this resilience and support the building of a better future for construction, there are some key learnings:
- Up-skill in digital – the pandemic has proven the importance of digital solutions in all areas of life. For construction in particular, digital solutions simplify processes at any level in the supply chain to adopt a sustainable growth strategy, helping to drive costs down, improve margins and build sustainable trading relationships. In the move towards true sustainability in the sector, the use of technology will be key
- Health & Safety isn’t just physical – assessing any safety risks is a key step you can take to understand and mitigate any accidents at work. Rather than just assessing the potential physical risks such as lifting heavy objects and resolving with steel toe-cap boots, employers must assess the risk that lack of sleep and disengagement from work, can pose for individuals on site and the overall success of the project, then work out ways of supporting staff to ensure this doesn’t pose a problem
- Skills shortage – with 44% of construction workers being aged over 45, it’s important to nurture the next generation and encourage them into careers in construction. The skills shortage is arguably driven by negative assumptions of the jobs available and younger people choosing university over alternative routes. However, as an industry we can work to break the stigma and showcase the wide range of roles available
- Prioritise sustainability – putting the environment at the centre of construction operations prepares the sector for the future, as we are issued more and more stark warnings on the climate crisis. As a one of the top contributors to carbon emissions, construction can lead the way with sustainable practice
- Always more to do – to be a sustainable business, it’s essential to anticipate the next big thing and any further market expansion. By having that close relationship with customers, you can anticipate what clients might need next, based on feedback, which as a business you can then use to ensure you’re making the right decisions and growing in the best direction