“Output has increased for two months in a row and momentum is increasing. June’s 23.5% surge was triple the 7.6% growth seen in May… The recovery is still young and fragile, but so far it is taking the hoped-for V-shape.”
Gareth Belsham, Naismiths. Construction Enquirer, June 2020
The wider economic outlook is grim for the UK, that's been extensively reported. The OECD has forecast that the UK’s national income will slump by 11.5 per cent this year, greater than that of France, Italy, Spain and Germany. Brexit will also have an impact on the economy, but that’s another potential issue.
However in spite of all the negative predictions, the trades sector has much potential as it represents the spearhead by which government investment generates growth. These measures will seek to boost the economy in a manner not seen since the end of the Second World War.
“History shows the construction industry is the tried and tested means of driving economic recovery, just as it did after the Second World War”
Paul Gandy, managing director of Interserve Construction, Construction News 3rd July 2020
An article in Construction News in July of this year, written by Paul Gandy, managing director of Interserve Construction, highlighted the positives that could then filter down through all areas of the industry. He highlighted that jobs would be secured and created across manufacturing, architecture, planning, engineering, distribution and construction, plus many other indirectly related jobs.
He also goes on to state that the construction industry as a whole provides people with new jobs quickly and the money that is invested gives a speedy return. With the government now looking to prioritise their spending they could do no better than to provide people with a level of funding needed to create these new skilled jobs in the trades.
“If the government prioritises job creation, skills and infrastructure spending – as the prime minister has pledged – the industry could be well placed to bounce back quickly following an extremely challenging period.”
Paul Gandy also made it clear how valuable the sector is to the UK economy as a whole:
“In 2018, the economic output of the construction sector, according to the Construction Leadership Council (CLC), was worth £413bn, equivalent to 8.6 per cent of GDP. This is nearly four times the combined annual output of the aerospace and automotive industries.”
The construction sector itself is huge with over 900,000 sole traders amongst the 3,000,000 people who are directly or indirectly working in the industry - There are also just under 1,000,000 people that are regarded as self-employed.
There is still a long way to go to ensure that these prospects are fulfilled and we have some way to go before we reach a full and sustained recovery. Demand for construction projects will continue to increase, although nobody knows exactly when this will happen, as Ragene Raithata, a senior associate in the construction and infrastructure practice at DWF Group, importantly reminds us:
“In a post-pandemic world there will still be a requirement for more homes, urban regeneration, improved infrastructure, improved offices, retail space and more distribution facilities. We all know from past downturns that a robust construction sector will emerge but how and when, we just do not know.”
Homes will always need building, infrastructure will always need developing, modernising, adapting – and we will need it now more than ever before. When things do return to normal, Britain needs the workforce to contribute to its road to recovery, to fulfill its prophecy of re-growth. We need to create our own masterplan for revival to see us out the other end – but most importantly, we need skilled tradespeople who are able to get the job done.
It is no overstatement to predict that the construction industry will provide the means of rebuilding our country: physically, economically, and mentally. And who knows? The next decade might see the UK economy becoming dependent on the continued growth of the construction industry.
Whatever happens, we’ll need skilled tradespeople to get the job done – and you could be one of them.
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