The announcement today of the industrial strategy, ‘Construction 2025’ has been welcomed as a positive first step and hopefully the start of a long term transformation of both construction manufacturing and the wider construction market. This is a first-of-its-kind endeavour, borne out of considerable effort over the last six months and involving the entire supply chain under the auspices of the Strategic Forum for Construction. It clearly partners government and industry. And in an encouraging comment from one of its BIS authors, Michael Fallon MP, “There is support for the Industrial Strategy from across the political spectrum”.
Its vision touches on areas familiar to all of us: improvements in the industry’s image, diversity, health and safety, research and innovation, and whole life value. Also prominently highlighted is the need for British businesses to lead the world in sustainable construction and manufacturing, together with the creation of a new leadership council which will oversee the implementation of the strategy.
The strategy includes several aims particularly relevant to our members, whereby industry and government are committing to support construction manufacturing to:
- Boost exports and enhance competition at home and abroad by supporting and recognising the value of British manufactured products and materials. To this end, UK Trade & Investment will fund a post within our Association to promote exports.
- Develop and refine the future pipeline of work opportunities, enabling businesses to invest in the short term and long term.
- Remove the barriers to innovation in contracting and sub contracting which are impeding the already high levels of innovation in manufacturing.
There are a number of actions put forward within the strategy to mark the beginning of the industry’s transformation. Our CEO, Diana Montgomery, has said “it’s now all about the delivery of ambitious targets”. The Association will be specifically focused on delivering the four below:
- Creating a ‘demand map’ including infrastructure, RMI and new build to 2025.
- Ascertaining those areas where regulatory risks create concern for the industry.
- Organising a manufacturing capacity and capability gap analysis to understand the factors which may inhibit capacity expansion.
- Identifying measures to boost export growth and enhance competitiveness at home and abroad.
With all this in mind, our view is that ‘Construction 2025’ is, in fact, less a strategic document and more a tactical document which outlines the issues and challenges facing construction and how they will be put right by the partnership between government and industry.
Visionary? To a degree, yes. Achievable? Certainly, but only if industry gets stuck in and helps deliver its fair share. We cannot rely solely on government; we must help ourselves. It is only a start, but all in all, it is an initiative which can rightfully be applauded.