Changes are a foot for the construction industry. In mid-July the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) announced the creation of Construction Industry Council; a powerful new body to represent the construction industry, providing it with a unified voice on issues such as skills shortages, climate change, planning reforms and housing shortages.
With a lot going on in the Construction Industry creating swathes of jobless people across the UK; in the last month two major construction firms have announced big job cuts bringing the number lost in the Construction Industry to more than 5,000 in just a couple of weeks.
Bovis and Redrow both revealed they were in the process of shedding about 40% of their workforce – 400 jobs at Bovis and around 550 at Redrow. Shortly beforehand another house-builder, Persimmon, announced that 1100 full-time staff had been cut since January.
The Construction Industry Council
The Construction Industry Council will bring together all sectors of the industry from consultants and civil engineers to homebuilders, contractors and manufacturers of construction materials – currently represented by 42 Trade Associations.
The Construction Industry Council makes its debut at a time when the UK construction industry is under great strain with finance for building projects scarce due to the credit crunch, while new home building and commercial property development have ground to a halt as the economy turns down.
The creation of the Construction Industry Council reflects frustration among top construction executives over the fragmentation of the industry, which has made it hard to get the ears of senior ministers, the chancellor and the prime minister over important issues.
“We’ve been talking about it for the last six or seven years,” said John McDonough, Carillion CEO, who will chair The Construction Council. “Lots of things have conspired to bring people together, whether it’s the economy, skills shortages, planning reforms and the difficulties in some of our sectors…The economy will be the first and most important issue on the plate.”
The Construction Council will mirror existing CBI councils for manufacturing and financial services, with 20 or more members representing all parts of the industry and all sizes of business meeting four times a year.
The construction industry is made up of about 250,000 businesses employing 2.1m people. The government spends £130bn a year in the sector, which accounts for almost 9 per cent of gross domestic product – about the same as financial services.
Changes to the construction industry will be interesting to see. The Construction Industry Council have some huge financial challenges ahead and huge construction challenges too – especially with the London Olympics just 4 years away!