Now one and a half years on since the Covid-19 pandemic effectively shut down the world, the dust appears to be settling on the construction industry’s state of affairs. There have been numerous obstacles, triumphs, setbacks, and delays of all kinds over this period. Material shortages, fears of redundancy, social distancing measures to be overcome, and the threat of site closures. At a time where such significant construction projects as HS2 are already behind schedule and costing ever greater amounts of money, this is the last thing we need.
For the last year and a half, industry leaders have waited with baited breath, casting hopeful speculation and quiet apprehension on the future of the construction industry. Will there be opportunities for growth on the other side? Will there be careers for skilled tradespeople? Will we have the means to provide the country with the services it so desperately needs?
But the industry has bounced back. Thanks to perseverance, discipline and brute determination to overcome these unprecedented challenges, we have powered through lockdown after lockdown, adjusting to the circumstances and ensuring that we get the job done.
The construction industry has served as a crucial lifeboat for those whose careers were unfortunately left untenable by the pandemic’s ruthlessness. Redundancies across a range of sectors, such as hospitality and entertainment, meant that thousands of people across the country left their jobs, either voluntarily or otherwise.
Thankfully, many of these people decided to retrain in trade and never looked back. A few months into the pandemic, it was evident that the services of tradespeople were going to remain in full demand – and someone had to provide those services.
It takes little digging to discover some striking evidence for the construction industry’s incredible performance and recovery over the last year or so. Not only have levels of productivity and profit returned to where they left off in March 2020, but quite often they have sky-rocketed past them.
The construction firm Clancy Group, for example, reported that their profits actually tripled during this great year of disruptions in the midst of the pandemic. Their pre-tax profit came in at £11.1m as of 28 March 2021, up from £3.5m the previous year – a figure which beggars belief considering the circumstances.
As the pandemic took its early toll in April and May of 2020, the company’s revenue dropped by 20%, and 500 of its 2,200 staff were forced into furlough. Things were not looking good, and the future was as uncertain as it seemed for the rest of the world. They had it as tough as anybody, but benefited greatly from the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which meant they were able to avoid making redundancies.
Kevin Clancy, Chairman of Clancy Group, said with noted optimism that ‘the vast majority [of the Clancy workforce] have returned to work successfully’, thanks to the support offered by the CJRS. He continues:
‘The pandemic has had a significant impact, but it has also highlighted the fundamental strength of our business. Within a few weeks of the onset of the pandemic, our team was predominantly classified as key workers and played an essential role in maintaining the country’s infrastructure throughout the pandemic’
These comments demonstrate the industry’s ability to get back on its feet with determination and dignity, and to ensure that last year’s delays are erased and made up for. They highlight the industry’s fundamental purpose in our society and in our daily lives, and it injects enormous value into the role of tradespeople. ‘Key workers’, ‘essential roles’, and ‘fundamental strength’ are not phrases to be taken lightly, and it is greatly inspiring to see that highly skilled tradespeople are being given the opportunities, protection, and security they deserve.
If you are considering becoming a skilled tradesperson, then now is the time to do so. There is no doubt whatsoever that the construction industry is picking itself up and moving the country forward. It is offering employment to a vast range of skilled and hardworking people, across a huge range of roles. It could be the career you never knew you needed – it could be yours for life.
Access Training can give you the step up that you need to become trained, become confident in your skills, and to set out on your career. It’s only a call away.
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