All the indications are that 2014 is going to be a far better year for construction than 2013.
And it’s starting to look as though 2013 was better than the official statistics said at the time, with the Office for National Statistics and forecasters retrospectively painting a rosier picture.
Recovery won’t take place evenly across the country, and some firms will continue to suffer painful - and fatal - challenges.
What every business needs to focus on is its people. This must be a year for training and development, for upskilling and planning ahead. In many cases it will require recruitment and expansion.
By the end of last year the most telling indicator that was increasing, along with measures of activity, was contractors’ concern over looming skills shortages.
“Construction needs to promote itself better, improve its image, acknowledge it is not doing enough to increase diversity and do something about it”
Those outside the industry want to see construction as a major source of job creation. Inside the industry we need to make sure that we are attracting the very best to join our sector at every level.
Construction needs more young people coming in as apprentices and as graduates. To do this, it needs to promote itself better, improve its image, acknowledge it is not doing enough to increase diversity and do something about it.
CITB chairman James Wates, interviewed by Construction News this week, describes this as a “war for talent”, and that’s not too dramatic a phrase.
Like any war, construction needs a strategic approach and a committed army if it is to stand any chance of winning.
It also needs a co-ordinated and powerful approach to skills and training. The CITB has its 50th anniversary this year. Mr Wates says its longevity is down to its continued relevance to the industry, and the fact that there isn’t a better way of doing things.
“There is a certain irony when the government officials carrying out the review can’t keep to their own timetable”
But its future is up in the air as the government’s triennial review, which examines whether the organisation should continue to exist and, if so, whether it needs to improve the way it works, drags on into the new year.
It’s running three months behind schedule and having a knock-on delay on the appointment of a permanent chief executive.
There is a certain irony when the government officials carrying out a review designed to test the continued effectiveness of an organisation can’t keep to their own timetable.
The review must be concluded and any changes implemented as swiftly as possible. Skills are the lifeblood of the construction industry and, at this point more than ever, there’s no time to waste.