A new joint strategy drawn up by government and the construction industry has been launched to set out a long term vision to drive growth throughout the entire industry, whilst promoting sustainability, innovation and advanced technologies such as BIM.
Construction 2025: industrial strategy for construction was developed over the last six months and is the result of government working with the Construction Products Association, of which BWF is a member, as well as other parts of the industry.
The strategy will focus on key growth markets such as smart technologies, green construction and overseas trade. It will seek to address manufacturing capacity and capability issues, whilst also targeting familiar problems for SMEs such as access to financial support, prompt payment issues and pre-qualification. Both the government and industry have agreed that it is crucial to improve the image of the sector in order to encourage new entrants to construction and promote wider use of apprenticeships.
The new Construction Leadership Council, in which product manufacturers and suppliers will be a key partner, will provide the direction for the strategy. One of the challenges is to develop a construction pipeline and manufacturing ‘demand map’ to 2025.
BWF Chief Executive Iain McIlwee commented on the new industrial strategy for construction:
“The document starts outlining an intention to develop and refine the pipeline of future work opportunities and this we applaud. Predictions for 1.7-2.5m new homes by 2025 are encouraging, but my concern is that stuff needs to happen now, real investment would kick start the industry and put this strategy on a practical footing.
"We welcome opportunities that will no doubt emerge for timber in the focus of driving carbon out of the built environment. New data emerging from DECC is underpinning how much carbon a focus on wood can save in new build and refurbishment projects.
"It is heartening to see the focus on inspiring young people to work in construction, this should rightly start in schools. Construction is too often seen as a second string profession. Joinery businesses operate at the very heart of the economy offering an exciting and varied career and opportunity to work in a large corporate structure, a dynamic SME or to work for yourself one day.
"It is also encouraging to see the strategy getting to the nub of issues such as late payment. This again is where the wider industry is letting itself down time and time again, adopting reprehensible tactics to avoid paying in a timely fashion. We look forward to hearing more about how government can effectively intervene to tackle this problem. The Construction Leadership Council may help to address this and to facilitate real and better collaboration up and down the supply chain. This will be a big step forward, the construction market is culturally too often focussed on price rather than value and this can limit life-cycle, sustainability and ultimately innovation.
"We are disappointed that the strategy falls short of recommending a VAT cut for domestic refurbishment work. This is hopefully detail to follow – this positive step would not only help to kick-start growth, but also support initiatives such as Trustmark by starting to eliminate the “how much for cash” culture that is a cancer in the construction sector.
"We are happy to get stuck in helping to hit the targets set down, but all we have to start with a clear appreciation that the vital catalyst is investment in growth.”