According to the government’s new Industrial Strategy which was published at the end of 2017, increasing productivity is a crucial factor in solving the number of challenges facing the UK as we inch ever closer towards Brexit. We need to rebalance the economy (especially the North/South divide) to make sure that we can deliver the infrastructure we need for the 21st Century. Leaders in the construction industry have already been battling a productivity problem and, despite the best efforts of our industry, productivity has been pretty much flat for the past two decades which other sectors (such as manufacturing) have increased their output by changing the way in which they work.
The latest research from Mace, the international consultancy and construction organisation, reveals that if construction had kept up with manufacturing over the past twenty years, the industry could be delivering more than £100 billion of extra economic growth in the UK and providing more than £40 billion in additional tax revenues. This would be enough to pay off the predicted 2019 budget deficit and add 3% to Britain’s GDP! What’s more, it could increase construction productivity from £25.50 per hour per worker to £38 per hour.
The Size of the Prize report comes hot on the heels of the publication of the government’s Construction Sector Deal which bring more than £170 million of funding for the Transforming Construction programme, an initiative designed to improve productivity throughout our sector through research and development activities. Being able to see the scale of the opportunities missed by the construction industry, there’s a clear incentive for everybody in our sector to collaborate to improve productivity in all areas of construction.
With the Fourth Industrial Revolution already underway, as we point out in another of our articles this week, this is a great opportunity to take the bull by the horns and change the way in which we work for the better – for the better of the UK, for the better of our construction industry and for the better of all those who work in our sector. The research clearly demonstrates that the scale of the “prize” to be won by doing so is enormous, but only if the whole construction industry works together to win this prize. If the big contractors can all pull together and work with their supply chains, clients and the public sector to use the funding available to deliver the construction sector a transformational upgrade in productivity, we’ll be providing a much needed boost to our businesses and to the country as a whole. With Brexit looming ahead of us, bringing an uncertain economic climate with it, there’s never been a better time to do so.