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Bricks and the City – Construction 2025 Back to the Future

Bricks and the City – Construction 2025 Back to the Future

A lot has been written in the past few weeks about Construction 2025 launched on the 2 July 2013 which is an industrial strategy in partnership with the Government.

Its aim is to give a clear and defined set of aspirations for UK construction and a clear vision of where it will be in 2025 (see link below to download)

Construction 2025

The headlines are:-

PEOPLE – An industry that is known for its talented and diverse workforce
SMART – An industry that is efficient and technologically advanced
SUSTAINABLE – An industry that leads the world in low-carbon and green construction exports
GROWTH – An industry that drives growth across the entire economy
LEADERSHIP – An industry with clear leadership from a Construction Leadership Council (see link for list of Council members) Construction Leadership Council

The best quote I have heard so far in connection with the strategy is from Chief Construction Advisor Peter Hansford, ” Just as construction is at the heart of the economy, people are at the heart of construction”. This is so true, it is all about people. On that basis, the two key headlines I believe need to be focussed on are PEOPLE and LEADERSHIP.

As part of the People strategy, the target is to increase capability in the workplace and as the wider economy emerges from recession, construction firms must be able to recruit, retain and develop skilled, hard-working people in sufficient numbers to meet the increasing demand for construction. The vision is that the industry becomes a sector of choice for young people inspiring them into rewarding and professional vocational careers.

Under Leadership, it is highlighted that the strategy is seen as the start of a process which will be taken forward by the new Construction Leadership Council to provide coherent leadership to ensure that an action plan is put in place and delivered.

The Action Plan is included in Annex B of the strategy and under the section entitled “Drivers of Change” it talks about working together to improve the image of the industry by inspiring young people which is great but what seems to be missing at the moment is a focus on those of us who are already in the industry and the changes we need to make to our behaviours to inspire ourselves as well as others.

I appreciate this is a work in progress but I would really like this to be a key part of the action plan. In my view we really need to dig deep into the psychology of the organisations and people within the industry and come up with a blueprint for change that we can work towards.

I’ve done a lot of research this weekend and whilst the strategy has been well received in the industry, there is also the feeling of déjà vu when the mind is cast back to Latham and Egan. Having reviewed the ‘commitment to people’ section of the Egan report, it talks about decent site conditions, fair wages and care for health and safety, and also respect for all participants in the process, involving everyone in sustained improvement and learning and a no-blame culture based on mutual interdependence and trust.

It was the Task Force’s view then that much of construction does not yet recognise that its people are its greatest asset and treat them as such and that too much talent is simply wasted and finally that construction cannot afford not to get the best from the people who create value for clients and profits for companies.

Now, bearing in mind this report was published in 1998, what has changed? Site conditions and health and safety have certainly improved, and so did wages and training in the boom years following publication of the report but the blame culture is still there and I still don’t think we have the trust or the recognition that people are its greatest asset. If the industry was a snakes and ladders board I’d say we’ve climbed up some of the ladders but we’re still sliding down the snakes in others!

It goes without saying that the recession saw a huge clamp down on training and development but I also think it has had a negative impact on behaviours with the competition for job retention and clients. It is my viewpoint that there are still a large number of people in the industry who do not feel appreciated or valued and that definitely needs to change.

Over the next few blogs I want to start looking at what changes we can make in our behaviours and what I’d like to see from industry leaders. There are also a couple of things that have come out of the strategy which I love from the industry publications Construction News and Building.

Following the strategy launch, Construction News Editor Rebecca Evans started the ‘Love Construction’ campaign encouraging people in the industry to tweet under the #loveconstruction as to exactly why they love it which has been really positively received and is gathering momentum.

Building have also started the “Construction Heroes” campaign with, yes, you guessed it the #ConstructionHeroes looking at who the unsung heroes are in our industry.

In my view lasting change needs to come from the bottom and the top but I certainly believe that the ball is rolling. I truly hope that in 2025 I’m not rushing home from work in my flying car to blog about the new strategy that’s just come out entitled Construction 2040, actually, I won’t because I’ll be retired by then!!