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Modernise or die: which would you rather?

People in construction work hard, take pride in their work and demonstrate a touching humility about the amazing things they achieve day in, day out.

But the businesses they work for make little profit, don’t invest much in research and development and have low productivity.

The projects they produce are characterised by low predictability on cost, timing and quality and an often antagonistic relationship with the wider supply chain from procurement to payment.

On an individual level, people in construction are passionate about their work and create an inspirational legacy – and yet the industry as a whole is characterised by a structural failure to recruit either enough or the right people for the work it must do today – let alone over the coming years.

At the Summit

Calls for greater collaboration to solve these problems are frequent and well-meant. The term was heard in almost every debate, discussion and presentation at last week’s Construction News Summit

What is needed is practical action by individuals right now, combined with a medium to long-term overhaul of all the way all players in the built environment interact and take responsibility.

The Skills Hack at the CN Summit was an attempt to facilitate the former. Read Build UK chief executive Suzannah Nichol’s call to action here.

Call to action

The hotly-anticipated report by Cast CEO Mark Farmer, commissioned by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department of Communities and Local Government, out today, is a no-holds-barred exposition of the latter.

You need go no further than the title of the report, Modernise or Die, to appreciate Mr Farmer is not pulling his punches. He paints a persuasive, coherent and comprehensive picture of the sector’s structure and behavioural tendencies to illustrate the urgent need for change.

“The industry as a whole is characterised by a structural failure to recruit either enough or the right people for the work it must do today – let alone over the coming years”

Using a medical analogy to outline the symptoms, causes, prognosis and treatment plan, he concludes construction is a sick, even dying, patient that has just a few years to prevent its demise.

He leaves no area of the built environment sector unexplored, producing a report that perfectly encapsulates the definition of constructive criticism. All parts of the sector must change urgently, which is why he calls for a tripartite covenant between the industry, clients and government.

He says the CITB must be reformed, but so too must the “cottage industry” of levy recovery by employers come to an end.

Modernise or die – which would you rather? Read this report and make your choice.

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