Opinion

Construction must adapt to thrive

Image: Unsplash/Lawless Capture

The best time to start planning for a better tomorrow is in the middle of a crisis, says Mark Beard.

During the darkest moments of the Second World War, politicians of all political persuasion were actively considering what society should look like if we overcame the unprecedented hardship and challenges we faced.  The difficulties presented by covid-19 cannot be compared directly to the challenges we had to face in the early 1940s.  However, there is much we can learn from history; in particular, that the best time to start planning for a better tomorrow, is when one is in the middle of a crisis rather than waiting until the crisis is over.

The UK construction industry has fared much better than most industries during the last year, but we should not underestimate the challenges ahead of us.  Very pleasingly, parts of our industry are already thinking about and planning how society will change over the next 10 years and how the construction industry should respond. 

The government has introduced its “Construction Playbook” which will over time become the framework for all public sector construction procurement; local authorities are increasingly demanding that new buildings are environmentally friendly, and Mark Farmer is leading the drive for greater off-site manufacture of buildings. These are only some of the elements that our industry needs to embrace.  We also have the Brexit effect on immigration, customs and industry regulation; the scarring, fallout and new ways of working arising from covid-19, our industry ongoing skills crisis as well as the opportunities presented by new technologies.

Not quite a perfect storm but nearly! At the Chartered Institute of Building, we have been looking at how all these different challenges come together. Driven by Novus and our most impressive younger members, the CIOB has set up a 2030 Visionary Group to look ahead to what will be expected of us in 10 years’ time and how the Institute, as the world’s largest and most influential professional body for construction management and leadership should respond to the emerging challenges and opportunities that are presented to us.

“The CIOB is very keen to play its part in shaping the post covid-19 construction industry.”

Mark Beard

As well as considering how this fast-changing world will affect us, the CIOB is very keen to play its part in shaping the post covid-19 construction industry. In part, because “the promotion for the public benefit of the science and practice of building and construction” is core to our royal charter; but also having a debate about the fast-moving state of our industry is the right thing to do. The CIOB will be holding a virtual conference on the 24 March 2021 to explore these issues in more detail. Confirmed Speakers include Dame Judith Hackitt, Mace CEO Mark Reynolds, and COINS chairman Larry Sullivan.

If you have a strong view on the challenges facing our industry; from diversity to attracting young people to committing to a career in construction, from prompt supply chain payment to the quality of what we deliver to our customers to the embracing of the principles of the new Building Safety Act and digital ways of working – please take your opportunity and be part of the debate.  Our industry will evolve more fully if more diverse views are heard.

For further details of CIOB Adapt and Thrive event please go to www.ciob.org/events

Mark Beard is president of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) 2020/21 and chairman of Beard Construction.   

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