Builders' Merchants News
Image, innovation and confidence to boost the construction industry
Published:  15 April, 2013

The future of the construction industry in the UK is dependent on an image overhaul, increasing innovation and more confidence, according to a group of industry experts who gathered for the recent Chartered Institute of Marketing Construction Industry Group (CIMCIG) chairman’s debate in Central London.

To an audience of marketers from every section of the construction industry, a panel of experts including Peter Hansford, the Government’s chief construction advisor, agreed that the industry needs to change in order to prosper.

Mr Hansford said: “The Government sees construction at the heart of the economy and we wish to use construction as an enabler of growth. We want to identify what we can do to take the industry forward. In construction the statistics show us that this recession is going to last twice as long as previous recessions have. It’s tough but there is a good potential for growth.

“Innovation has to play a key role. We know that throughout the industry people are innovating but it’s all hidden. We need to bring it out and identify any barriers to further innovation.”

The panel also included Brian Berry, chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), James Pargeter, partner at Deloitte Real Estate, Denise Bower, professor of engineering at the University of Leeds and Diana Montgomery, chief executive of the Construction Product Association. In a lively debate it was agreed that there are many aspects of the construction industry which could be improved.

FMB’s Mr Berry commented: “It remains that the building industry has an image of mud and boots and for many roles this just isn’t the case anymore. The construction industry needs an image overhaul; we need to show that skills are important and that the industry offers a rewarding and multi-faceted career path.”

There were also calls throughout the room for an end to the stop-start nature of investment in the industry.

Ms Bower of the University of Leeds said: “The stop-start nature of investment in the construction industry frustrates the supply chain. It disrupts the process and this loses productivity. It breeds a lack of confidence and we have seen the number of apprentices drop because they fear there will not be a long-term career possible.”

The debate ended with much optimism for the future of the construction industry, with many agreeing that the foundations are in place – it’s now just time to start building up again.