With the arrival of a new year comes the beginning of a new era; a chance to reflect on what has been, and speculate on what is to come.
We can now see with some clarity how the construction industry fared under two lockdowns, heavy restrictions, and an unprecedented global crisis. Most importantly, we can see where it might be heading next. And judging by the promising words of industry leaders and new statistics, it did pretty well considering the circumstances.
The take-home message is that 2021 will be a year of ‘gradual and sustained recovery’ for the construction industry, according to industry experts. And this growth is not limited to 2021, but at least to the next two years beyond that. In other words, the next three years will be a time of high productivity, high employment, and general positivity for the construction industry. But how did construction get so lucky?
The critical factor undoubtedly lies in the ability of construction workers, industry leaders, and organisations, to open up their sites quicker than expected when restrictions were loosened in the summer of 2020. By the time the second lockdown came about in November, it became clear that the construction industry did not need to shut down entirely. Sites could still operate safely, following social distancing measures, and so Boris Johnson officially gave permission for sites to remain open under a lockdown.
But things could have been so different. In the second quarter of 2020, following the pandemic, construction productivity fell by 36%. We avoided a full construction closure only because the industry is so important to the country’s economy; in 2016 it accounted for 9% of the entire economy, adding £138 billion to its value. We just can’t do without it.
And that’s why industry leaders are fighting to ensure that, even in such dire circumstances as we still face at the beginning of 2021, the construction industry remains open and functioning. So much depends upon it, that the new Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, wrote an open letter to make the case for the construction industry remaining open again:
‘It is vital that construction continues through these unsettling times, and I want to reassure you that the government values the crucial contribution your sector is making. [...] I want to make it clear that where it is essential to travel or to stay in accommodation, whether to get to work or for the purposes of carrying out your work, those in the [construction] industry are able to do so’.
This ringing endorsement of the construction industry just goes to show that, if the prospect of becoming an electrician, gas engineer, carpenter, plumber, or any role within construction appeals to you – then you will have the government’s support and the freedom to work at a time when thousands of people are out of a job.
The proof is truly in the numbers. A survey conducted by the CHAS found that 56% of construction businesses they questioned have all their staff now back in work, and of the 44% that don’t, 43% said staff are on furlough.
The security of construction jobs comes as no surprise when you look at the industry’s performance in the second half of 2020. Output grew by 41.7% in September, the biggest quarterly growth since records began in 1997. Work on new housing grew by 88.7%, driven by a 102.9% growth in public housing. Private housing and infrastructure grew above their pre-pandemic levels in February 2020.
It’s mouth-watering stuff for those in the industry, and should be highly appealing for those outside it who are looking for job security. Now is your chance to get your foot in the door of construction and give yourself a career. If your job is looking increasingly like a lost cause, stopping and starting when rules allow, with redundancy a likely exit, then look no further.
You can become anything you set your sights to, with a call and some commitment. We can take it from there.
Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.