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The public must understand the benefit of 'local' construction

Making it clearer to the public just what a vital role businesses play in supporting society is a topic in the national spotlight at the moment.

In my role as chairman of the CBI Construction Council, I have been involved in helping to support a new campaign called The Great Business Debate.

It was organised after CBI research found only around half the general public think business makes a positive contribution to society.

The debate we are structuring aims to ensure a more constructive conversation takes place to make it clear just how much of a contribution businesses can make.

After more than 40 years in the construction industry, it is my experience that many businesses are making a vital contribution to society.

Not only do we need to better promote this, but we need to ensure more independent customers and clients are electing to work with the companies that prioritise investing in their communities, so the companies investing the most in society are the companies best supported to grow.

Local focus pays dividends

Construction firms play a particularly crucial role in benefiting society on a wider scale.

Construction is a highly successful method of generating economic activity – for every £1m invested in construction projects, £3m can be generated in the greater economy.

“More needs to be done to promote the good work companies are doing every day on the ground”

If construction companies make it a priority to purchase and employ locally wherever possible – to buy materials from local suppliers and to subcontract primarily to local firms – the benefits of a particular building project in a small region can be immense.

Hand in hand with the boost to the local economy are the job creation opportunities.

At times of high unemployment, construction activity can act as a tremendous uplift for an area, creating much-needed jobs – and the industry mobilises those opportunities far faster than many other sectors.

Lifting the veil

There are also great opportunities for young people to develop new skills and work towards a career in the construction industry by gaining essential experience on a live building site.

Businesses can always do more to link in with further education providers, to ensure a strong, consistently increasing number of work experience placements and training days are available on live construction sites in regional locations.

Schemes like this not only benefit the individuals involved by providing the first steps towards a rewarding career in the construction industry, but have long-lasting, widespread benefits for society by attracting a new generation into the industry.

More needs to be done to promote the good work companies are doing every day on the ground, but we also need to communicate to clients and customers how important it is that they elect to work with companies that see the benefits of investing locally.

Supporting companies who buy, employ and train locally is also a way of supporting the home-grown economy, and ensuring the company is going to bring about direct, tangible and sustainable benefits to the community it’s working within.

I urge clients – public and private – to think local. We can all gain from the boost to the economy that will result.

Steve Hindley is chairman of Midas Group

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