Construction, among many other industries, is currently evaluating its losses from the past year and the impact they will have on the industry’s future. But the question everyone is asking at the moment is whether the construction industry can at all recover from the ongoing pandemic?
It goes without saying that 2020 destroyed the lives of many and crossed out dreams and plans of others, including postponing the Olympics in Tokyo or cancelling the Euro tournament, to name just a few. Suddenly, we were all forced to give up our way of life, the companies were obliged to comply with the new requirements and restrictions imposed by the government.
One could argue that this was the beginning of the end for a lot of industries. Nearly a year later from the first lockdown, despite the pandemic situation still being dreadful and far from desired, some industries are beginning to stand back on their feet. However, is the construction industry considered to be one of them? Are we going to witness its prompt recovery?
Merciless Covid-19 didn’t spare anyone while turning our lives upside down. A lot of industries are currently “bearing fruits” of an over year-long global pandemic and are analysing the long-term consequences. Although the construction industry wasn’t exposed to the worst-case scenario and was better off than many others, it did not remain intact. The main concern nowadays is a reported significant reduction in revenue. According to the Office for National Statistics, the industry’s activity fell by about 40% last April, which is going to lead to further economic damage.
On top of that, construction industry encountered breaks in supply chains, which were stretched to their limits back in 2020. This, obviously, had to result in massive project delays and, in some cases, even last-minute cancellations. Consequently, strained supply chains as well as project delays led to longer delivery times and deadlines not being respected.
The construction sector has been a powerful force in the UK economy for years, providing the highest economic output in 2018. Not only does it create skilled job opportunities but it also provides a relatively quick return on investment.
Having taken into account the significant role of the construction sector in the country's economy, the UK government pledged to take part in the industry’s recovery during this extremely challenging time. Promising support programs announced by the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, concern construction businesses, workers and providers.
The Construction Leadership Council (CLC), which works between government and construction in order to provide the industry’s growth and improvement, has offered multiple support programs regarding the outbreak of the Coronavirus. The proposed solutions include:
Roadmap to Recovery
A strategy to drive the recovery of the construction sector over the next two years. The plan covers an increase in the level of activity across the construction ecosystem and the acceleration of the industry adjustment process to the new normal. Moreover, it intends to prioritise decarbonisation, modernisation thanks to digital and manufacturing technologies and finally, safer buildings. The strategy consists of three phases to support a sustainable recovery:
Construction Industry Coronavirus Task Force
A program that has been set up in order to develop the initiatives supporting the needs of the sector during the current period when restrictions are still in place. The support being offered includes: guidance on contractual terms, loan finance, insurance and bonds, cost planning, employment schemes, product availability and site operating procedures.
Talent Retention Scheme
Its objective is to help talented individuals to showcase their experience, knowledge and expertise and, at the same time, to help businesses find the necessary skills.
The fundamental question here is whether it is at all possible for the construction industry to get back on track in these tumultuous times? The answer is definitely yes! Not only will it bounce back, but the construction sector is also projected to be driving the UK economic recovery. It is said that the industry is very well placed to lead the post-crisis recovery as its future is very uplifting, including 700 investment projects being planned and over 500 billion pounds of investment in the National Infrastructure Pipeline.
Thanks to the recovery plans and the support programs offered by the government, we will witness both job creation and a new generation of skilled and trained workers. As of December, there is an increasing demand for construction projects, which results in a rise in employment numbers and will continue to do so in the coming months. Improving client demand and new business wins on construction projects will give a further boost to the country’s economy.
However, as the construction activity continues to grow and with it, the appetite for building resources, suppliers will experience certain difficulties when it comes to the production pace during the first quarter of the year. Consequently, we will yet again notice longer delivery times and most likely, the delays in finishing the projects.
Despite the pandemic’s undeniable impact on the market and on the industry, construction may consider itself lucky. The forecasts for the construction’s wellbeing are favourable and the future of the industry looks bright. Without a doubt, the support programs offered by the government made a significant difference in helping the industry regain its strength. And even though there is still a long way ahead to retrieve the coveted balance, the chances are that history could repeat itself making the construction industry, yet again, the leading stimulus sector to kickstart the UK economy.
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