The Government announced its flagship Construction Sector Deal which sets out an ambitious partnership between the industry and the government that aims to transform the sector’s productivity through innovative technologies and a more highly skilled workforce.
The construction sector is one of the nation’s major employers, with around 3.1 million people working in the sector, most of whom are outside London and the South East. It is one of our truly nationwide industries – encompassing individual homes in remote areas and some of the greatest infrastructure projects of our generation, in every corner of the United Kingdom.
The government recognises that the sector has an important role to play in achieving the vision set out in its Industrial Strategy: strengthening the foundations of the economy and achieving the Grand Challenges by:
The construction sector, encompassing contracting, product manufacturing and professional services, had a turnover of around £370 billion in 2016, adding £138 billion in value to the UK economy – 9% of the total – and exported over £8 billion of products and services.
However, the potential of the sector has been held back by productivity that is historically below than the wider economy – an average of 21% lower since 1997.
The Farmer Review, published in 2016, highlighted a combination of factors behind this problem, including the cyclical nature of the sector, the unpredictability of future work and a lack of collaboration across the sector. It concluded that transforming the industry would require shared leadership by the industry, its clients and the government.
This Sector Deal brings together a coalition of businesses from across the sector, its clients, the government and research institutions to set out a strategy to improve the industry’s performance and help it fulfil its potential to deliver wide-reaching social benefits.
The government is setting out an ambition for the construction sector to deliver:
The Sector Deal builds on Construction 2025, published by the government and the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) in 2013, and provides the framework for a sector that delivers:
These goals will be met by focusing on 3 strategic areas:
As part of the Clean Growth Grand Challenge, the Prime Minister has announced a mission to at least halve the energy use of new buildings by 2030. This commitment to innovation and improvement will help the industry respond to the recommendations of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, published in May 2018.
Industry leaders expressed their views on the new deal: Andrew Wolstenholme, Co-Chair of the Construction Leadership Council said: “We are an industry that must be at the forefront of the UK’s drive for future growth and prosperity – and I’m confident that this deal will help to achieve that.”
Build UK chief executive Suzannah Nichol said: “Today’s announcement sets out a bright vision for the future of UK construction along with a plan that the industry can, and should, all get behind.”
The Civil Engineering Contractors Association warned that “words must be met with action”.
The CBI welcomed the deal with George McFarlane, CBI Sector Development Director, saying “Businesses will welcome the Construction Sector Deal, which firmly recognises construction’s indispensable role in driving growth across the UK as part of the Industrial Strategy.
“With the industry needing to fill 158,000 roles over the next three years, the announcement of new training programmes to help develop the sector’s skills pipeline is particularly encouraging.”