westminster business forum

Westminster Business Forum Event – modernisation, the workforce and supporting productivity and growth

Our CEO Umer Mansoor recently attended the construction themed Westminster Business Forum event. Find out his thoughts in this blog…

The recent Westminster Business Forum event was hosted last week in London. Industry decision makers and thought leaders attended the conference to discuss the future of construction. The theme was UK Construction and there were many timely topics discussed.

Construction Speakers

 I couldn’t agree more with the views shared by Dr David Hancock. Dr David listed out the number of sector deals and reports that were issued by industry or government in the past and noted none of them were followed to their core.

Construction champion Mark Farmer also spoke at the event. Mark discussed modern construction methods and talked about modular construction in the UK. Mark stated that the UK construction industry is facing many barriers from funding for construction projects to “skills shortages”. Mark noted these had been barriers to the industry over recent years.

There was an interesting question raised by Brian Berry (CEO of the Federation of Master Builders). This was: ‘can anyone claim to be a builder in the UK?’ Despite much debate, speakers couldn’t decide on an answer to this question. Personally, I believe it is perhaps the question itself that is the issue. In the context of the construction industry, a builder is defined as a tradesperson. I believe in having only qualified and certified tradespeople in the industry. Therefore, I believe that only certified people should be able to claim they are a builder, or this could have a significant impact on industry standards.

Construction industry collaboration

I found the most interesting topic which was discussed at the conference is fragmentation in the construction industry. In my opinion, this could have been discussed in greater detail since this is one of the main reasons why the construction sector is struggling to catch up with other industries when it comes to modernisation and growth.

 The construction industry lacks collaboration on all fronts, whether it is developing new sites, using new technologies, saving costs or reducing carbon emissions. I also find it to be an issue in the construction skills and training sector.

 The top 10 construction firms have departments who do not share any data or information with each other. The UK’s SMEs and small companies have little knowledge or time to prepare for modern technologies. In my opinion, it is important that data is captured at every stage and shared at industry level so that others can also learn and improve, raising the overall industry standard.

Future of construction

Some of the other main takeaways from the event were that the industry needs more diversity including women and people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. The skills shortage and lack of collaboration need to be addressed, as well as cohesive data sharing and capture. One of the main topics being discussed in the current climate is the continuity in government plans – for example the sector deal and how this will affect the industry moving forwards. I am looking forward to seeing what progress 2020 brings for the construction sector.

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