Leading economists have forecasted that the construction industry will enter a period of rapid and sustained growth over the next four years, enjoying an impressive 19% increase by 2017.

This estimation comes from the Construction Products Association, who expect the £20 billion expansion to be led by an increase in housing, energy and transport infrastructure. The new forecast comes following a notable rise in the housing industry over the summer, which has led economists to abandon their previous expectations.

Noble Francis, Economics Director of the CPA, said: "Construction is set to enjoy growth over the next four years as it recovers from its worst recession in over 35 years. This is mainly due to private housing, which is experiencing a rapid rise, and infrastructure, which is seeing a more gradual return to positive territory."

"The private housing sector is being driven by recovery in the wider economy and the impacts of policies including Help to Buy, which have driven both house prices and house building. This is expected to lead to private house starts increasing 19.0% in 2013 and 15.0% in 2014, albeit from historic low levels of house building.

"Although rapid growth is predicted over the next 18 months, uncertainty remains around what will happen when the policies end, given that the housing market is unlikely to be self-sustaining by then."

He explained that the infrastructure sector was still recovering from a difficult 2012, where output fell 12.7% despite the government announcing boosts to it.

"Government now appears, however, to be refocusing capital investment towards repairs and renewals. In addition, work on Europe’s largest construction project, Crossrail, is expected to peak over the next 18 months. As a result, growth of 7.4% is forecast in 2014.

"In the longer-term, the prospects for infrastructure will be reliant upon investment in the replacement of energy capacity across nuclear, offshore wind, gas and shale, all of which remain uncertain. Driven by this investment, we predict the sector will enjoy further growth of 27.9% between 2015 and 2017."

But despite this forecasted increase, other key sectors will apparently continue to struggle. Work in the largest sector of commercial (offices and retail) remains one-third lower than its high in 2007, while public sector construction, which accounts for one-third of total industry output, continues to constrain overall growth.

"After suffering from an extremely tough market for over five years, and acting as a drag on UK economic activity, construction is set to grow every year between 2014 and 2017. This should provide a considerable boost to the wider economy," said Francis.

Via Construction Enquirer

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Cardiff Council has called for contractors interested in potentially building an indoor arena and convention centre in the city centre.

Though these plans are still in the early stages, the council is looking for firms interested in these two major building projects, both expected to cost around £60 million to build. Along with the Welsh Government they are exploring a number of different funding options, including potentially borrowing (with a low interest long-term repayment plan) from the Treasury's Public Works Loan Board. Another avenue that has been suggested is the use of tax increment financing.

Talks with other cities and developers have seen it draw up plans for a 15,000-seat capacity indoor arena in a horse-shoe layout, rather than conventional fan-shaped floor plate. It will not only be used to stage major sporting events and concerts, but also annual party political conferences.

Alongside this the council also aims to deliver a 1,500-seat international conference centre with around 500,000 sq ft of exhibition space. The plans are an essential part of the Labour council’s vision for boosting the capital’s economy over the next 20 to 30 years.

Via Construction Enquirer

£617.5 million is planned to be spent on transport and housing infrastructure construction, according to plans published by Welsh finance minister Jane Hutt.

The transport investments will include £40m for the dualling the A465 between Gilwern and Brynmawr, £40m spend on improving the M4 Brynglas tunnel and then £17m for improvements to the A55 in North Wales. £62m will also go toward the first phase of a new scene to create a South East Wales metro system through better bus and rail links.

Meanwhile a total of £170m will go toward housing, £140m of while will be used up until 2016 on the "Help to Buy" scheme. This is in addition to the £34.5m already invested in it during this current financial year.

Other investments included in the plans are £38m toward improving Welsh health facilities (including the final phase of the Noah' Ark Children's Hospital for Wales), £70m for home energy efficiency scheme ARBED ECO and £20m to support a programme of flood and coastal defence improvements.

Jane Hutt said: "Since 2010, the UK government has made significant cuts to our capital budget. By 2015-16 it will be 33% lower in real terms than in 2009-10.

"The tough economic conditions continue but I am determined to use every pound available to invest in infrastructure and boost economic growth in the long-term."

Via The Construction Index

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Via Construction Enquirer

Towards the end of September we wrote up a post revealing some of the horrific conditions the Health & Safety Executive had found construction sites in, and now they have returned with even more shocking images of what some workers are subject to.

The HSE are still compiling the final results of their tour across UK building sites (which ran over the course of September), but their initial figures have ALREADY shown that nearly half the sites they visited had some sort of serious safety failing.

This alarmingly high rate has promoted the Unite union to call for increased funding in order for the HSE to carry out more site inspections.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: "The HSE's spot checks throughout September are proof that the Executive needs more capacity and funding.

"The extent of the breaches uncovered also shows why trade union health and safety committees are so important in the construction industry and why we need more.

"The ending of the spot checks will be manna from heaven for the worst employers and unfair to employers who work with unions to get it right. The government’s attack on health and safety must be reversed."

Below is the latest batch of pictures released by the HSE:

Wheeled scaffolding precariously balanced at this site.

This site seems to have absolutely no regard for electrical safety.

Would you use this ladder at the top of a four lift scaffold?

I would hardly call this support adequate.

A new survey from the Chartered Institute of Building has suggested that many construction professionals feel that corruption is commonplace in the industry, with many being offered bribes or incentives during their time.

The survey used a sample of 700 construction professionals and aimed to investigate whether corruption is considered to be a problem in the UK, exactly what practices were considered "corrupt" and which areas were particularly susceptible to them. The sample included over 300 senior managers and directors, with more than one in three (35%) admitted to have being offered a bribe or incentive on at least one occasion. Nearly 38% had come across cartel activity at least once and of those, 29% have witnessed it within the last 12 months.

They placed the blame on squeezed tender margins and reduced workloads, which were resulting in pressuring professionals into corrupt practices in order to stay afloat.

The rest of the main statistics from the survey have been listed below:

  • 49% of respondents believe corruption is common within the UK construction industry, just 2% fewer than the first survey published in 2006.
  • Cultural (27%) and economic (23%) are cited as the main reasons for corruption.
  • Cover pricing is seen to not be corrupt by 20% of respondents. Although, predominantly other adverse practices linked to the construction industry are seen to be corrupt (billing for unperformed work, collusion and cartel activity).
  • 67% indicate that the use of gifts and corporate hospitality can be treated as bribery.
  • 43% suggest that all the stages of the ‘construction process’ are susceptible to corruption. 35% specify that the pre-qualification and tendering phase is the most at risk.
  • Over a third said they have encountered cartel activity in the UK construction industry. Of those, 29% said it was in the last 12 months.
  • 35% of respondents have been offered a bribe or incentive on at least one occasion.
  • 40% do not know if their company has a whistle-blowing policy. 54% indicated that they are aware and only 7% said that they have used it.
  • Respondents acknowledge that the UK construction industry (50%) and the UK Government (55%) are not doing enough to prevent and tackle corruption.

Graham Hand, Coordinator of the UK Anti-Corruption Forum, said "This valuable report shows that despite the introduction of a tough new Bribery Act in 2010, corruption is still common in the construction business in this country.

"That is unacceptable. The law enforcement agencies need to work with the professional and business organisations to educate companies about their responsibilities, and they must act against companies that break the law."

CIOB Deputy Chief Executive Michael Brown added that measures such as the Bribery Act had a limited effect, with no prosecutions against businesses taking place. "If the UK is going to live up to its rhetoric of being tough on corruption, both the Government and industry must do more to show proof of progress," he remarked.

Via Construction Enquirer

The Construction Industry Training Board has issued a serious warning to the UK constructor sector, reminding them that it faces a skills "time bomb" if it fails to find new workers before potentially 400,000 people retire in the next five to ten years.

The new labour market research, published by the Office of National Statistics, breaks the information collected down into the following main points:

  • 19% of UK construction workers aged 55+ (equivalent of 406,000 people) are set to retire in the next five to ten years
  • 24% of workers aged 45-54 (518,000) will then subsequently be retiring in the next ten to twenty years
  • 37% of the UK construction workforce is self-employed, and 23% (182,800) of those are also set to retire in five to ten years

With these huge numbers in mind, the research also noted which areas would be affected more than others. The East Midlands and South West would particularly suffer, with 22% of workers (that's 31,900 and 39,500 for each place respectively) set to leave. On the other hand Greater London, which holds the largest number of construction workers in the UK at 318,000 people, is estimated to not take the hit quite so hard. There only 12% (38,500) are expected to leave. Meanwhile in Scotland and Wales, the number is set to be similar to the total number of people retiring in the North East and South West of England - which is round about 56,000 people.

When you consider all of this, its unsurprising that UK construction was found to have a higher age profile than many other UK industries (19% are set to retire in comparison to the rest's 17%). To combat this, the CITB is encouraging employers to look at recruiting more and more young people, many of whom will have only just received their GCSE or A-Level results and be considering their next steps.

CITB Interim Chief Executive William Burton said: "Almost one in five workers are set to retire from the construction industry over the next five to ten years, so not taking action now to encourage young people to join the industry or invest in the training to up-skill our existing workforce, is no longer an option. The construction sector is essential for growth and, to avoid the similar skills crisis that affected the industry in the early 1990s, we urge employers to act now."

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Construction sites across the UK will be open to the public for viewing this weekend as part of the UK Contractor's Group (UKCG)'s second Open Doors Weekend.

So far more than 3,000 people have signed up for the event, which takes place on Friday and Saturday. At the sites they will be given a closer look at what takes place on a building site, as well as learn of the things that go on behind the scenes. A wide range of different projects are open, including Hotel Football at Old Trafford, a Technology Centre where new contruction techniques are tested and one creating new lanes on the M25.

UKCG Director Stephen Ratcliffe said: "With Open Doors just a few days away we are pleased so many people are taking part.

"In particular, construction needs more young people entering our industry, and the weekend is an opportunity to tell the story of what a career in a modern and vibrant construction industry looks like.

"It is not about 'dirt and bricks', but an industry that is at the forefront of innovation, new technologies and creating iconic projects."

To find out more about the Open Doors Weekend and book your place, visit the official website at www.opendoorsweekend.co.uk.

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Yesterday it was announced that the Welsh Government has issued new procurement guidance to allow public sector bodies to exclude contractors known to be using blacklists from bidding for contracts.

Welsh Finance Minister Jane Hutt said: "The use of blacklists is wholly unacceptable and I fully sympathise with the individuals and their families who have suffered a terrible injustice as a consequence of contractors engaging in this practice.

“Procurement is an important part of the overall policy toolkit of the Welsh Government.  Under no circumstances is it acceptable for any business in receipt of public procurement expenditure to use blacklists. I am determined to take action in Wales. I trust that other Governments in the UK will take similar action if they have not already done so."

The ban will supposedly only cover firms found to be still operating blacklists. Contractors involved the construction trade’s infamous blacklist scandal will still be able to bid for Welsh work provided they have apologised publicly.

Andy Richards, secretary for Unite Wales, added: “The Welsh government’s action to rid Wales of the scourge of blacklisting by ensuring that those who practice blacklisting do not benefit from public contracts is to be commended.  

We look forward to working with the Welsh government to put this policy into practice and urge other governments across the UK to follow suit in bringing in tougher laws to call time on blacklisting everywhere.”

Via Construction Enquirer

Today The Construction Enquirer have put up a news story concerning the outcome of a Bolton building firm's court case whose scaffolding was deemed to present a risk to the crew.

The firm, R Hamer Ltd, was prosecuted after a member of the public reported the work to the Health & Safety executive. Two workers had been spotted replacing guttering during high winds on what appeared to be unsafe scaffolding, and when an inspector arrive he found the men using two "badly-erected" towers with an unsecured board being used as walkway between them. 

The court was told there was also no edge protection on the scaffolding, such as handrails or toe boards, and the workers were not using harnesses to prevent them being injured in a fall. One of the men was also seen climbing down the outside of the scaffolding rather than using an access ladder. The firm received a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £562 in prosecution costs, which is a rather leniant sentence for something that could have endangered lives.

This news story reminded me of a tweet I had seen earlier last week from @DIYDoctor, which I've shared below:

Falling from heights is one of the biggest causes of workplace death in the construction industry, and can easily be avoided by using safe and secure scaffolding. If you see a construction firm not taking the right precautions, you should report them to the HSE before an accident can happen. Likewise if you're doing a bit of exterior DIY don't think you can just get away with precariously balancing on the roof and a carefully laid out piece of wood like the man above. Otherwise that little job could end up costing you your life.

New Government figures from the Department for Communities and Local Government have shown an impressive surge in house building between April and June this year.

The statistics show that during this period there were a total of 29,510 new homes started - 6% highter than the previous quarter, and a third higher than the same time last year. Seasonally adjusted private enterprise completions increased by 11%.

This growth in the construction sector has been attribued to the wide range of government measures currently in play, which have also led to the hightest number of first-time buyers and lowest level of repossessions since 2007.  These include;

  • New housing supply at its highest level since 2008, with a total 334,000 new homes built in England over the past 3 years
  • Over 150,000 new affordable homes built over the past 3 years thanks to the wide range of affordable housing programmes, including £19.5 billion of public and private investment over this Spending Review, and over £22 billion investment in the 3 years after that.
  • Interest rates kept low thanks to government action to tackle the deficit inherited from the last administration.
  • Over 10,000 reservations for newly-built homes in just the first 4 months of the government’s Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme.
  • The Funding for Lending scheme, which has increased the availability of competitively priced mortgages.

Communities Minister Brandon Lewis said: "Under the last administration, housebuilding fell to its lowest peacetime rate since the 1920s. But today’s figures clearly show government action is bringing confidence back into the housing market and getting Britain building again, with starts increasing by a third year-on-year. We’ve already delivered over 330,000 new homes over the past 3 years, and 150,000 affordable homes. There is more to do, but today’s figures reinforce the momentum towards getting Britain building again."

Of course these houses are going to need a lot of work done of them before they're inhabitable, and this is where you come in. The market is going to need electricians, plumbers, gas engineers, bricklayers, plasterers, carpenters, tilers and decorators - and if you've every considered entering one of the trades, an Access Training course is all you need to do it. We get you the necessary qualifications to enter your chosen trade and start your journey to a career filled with success and variety. To find out more call us on 0800 345 7492 today.

The Construction Industry Training Board has warned that the industry needs to put more focus on the recruitment and training of young people, after recent statistics revealed some alarming facts about the average age of Britain's construction workforce.

According to the Office of National Statistics, 19% of UK construction workers are aged 55 and over. A further 24% (518,000 people) are aged between 45 and 54. They estimate that these statistics mean at least 406,000 people will need to be replaced over the next 10 years if the labour force is stay the same size.

CITB’s interim chief executive William Burton said: “Almost one in five workers is set to retire from the construction industry over the next 5-10 years, so not taking action now to encourage young people to join the industry – and investing in the training to up-skill our existing workforce – is no longer an option. The construction sector is essential for local and national economic growth and to avoid the similar skills crisis that affected the industry in the early 1990s, we urge employers to act now.”

While more young people undoubtedly need to be adopted into the industry, these age groups show that its also never too late to join the world of construction. You could be 18, 25, 35 or older and the choice to change careers into construction could still prove a refreshing and liberating experience. If you would like to find out more about how you can join thus rewarding line of work that's constantly on the lookout for new people, give Access Training a call. We provide a wide range of construction training courses for people of all ages and backgrounds, giving you the qualifications needed to enter at a professional level. Give us a call on 0800 345 7492 and we'll be happy to tell you more.

Source: The Construction Index

The British Safety Council has warned construction employers to take extra care with any young people they might hire over the summer, as statistics show workers are more likely to be the victim of workplace accidents within the first few months of a new job.

The BSC's chief executive Alex Botha says this risk can be greatly reduced with only a few simple steps, paying great sttention to health and safety practices and promoting safe behaviour in the workplace. Employers also need to establish what the risks are and use the knowledge of experienced staff to work out how to control them and to ensure that young people understand the safety training they are given.

"Vacation jobs are a great way for young people to earn money, get some experience and develop skills but we know they can be particularly vulnerable when they start work. There are many reasons for this: a general lack of work experience; unfamiliarity with the workplace, machinery or work processes; a lack of physical capability to do the job or the confidence to raise concerns; a failure of employers to provide the necessary training and familiarisation."

In addition to this, the BSC has included a page featuring tips on how to work with young people on its website.

Via Builder & Engineer Magazine

 

Proper health & safety knowledge is a vital part of working in the construction industry, as is having the right skillset to get the job done properly. If you're thinking of changing career and entering the construction trade and becoming a carpenter, bricklayer, plasterer, tiler or painter/decorator, have you got all the qualifications you need. At Access Training we offer a wide range of trades training courses to suit all needs, from ones for DIY enthusiasts right up to recognised City & Guilds qualifications. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

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