Construction Industry – Covid-19 update

Construction Industry – Covid-19 update

Like every industry, Covid-19 is having an effect on the UK construction industry, massive actually. At this stage, COVID-19 is not, broadly speaking, rendering projects altogether impossible to complete. But it is slowing them down, causing delay and disruption,, as many projects have even stopped, usually with the intention to resume work at a later date.

The UK government has ordered certain businesses to stop working. However, the construction industry has generally not been the subject of ordered shutdowns. This is as a result of these main reasons, including:

o   Emergency construction works must continue in order to provide the UK with all their essential needs such as transport, water and energy.

o   The importance of the continuation, if possible, of construction and infrastructure projects;

o   Construction projects vary and as a result, the health and safety risks of COVID-19 vary from project to project as well. For example, people who are working outside, and are not physically close to each other, may be in a better position to comply with the new health and safety precautions than people working in an enclosed environment.

That said, the situation is evolving and many other countries have suspended all non-essential construction projects. However, it is doubtful the UK government will action this, rather they will be supporting many projects to start back.

In the immediate response, the construction industry has really pulled together with many governing/ professional bodies reacting quickly to the situation and offering support. Which during this unprecedented time of change, this reassurance has been welcome.

Before Covid-19 and in the run up to the winter elections, it was no secret that the government has repeatedly reiterated how housing, construction and infrastructure will be at the forefront of its political agenda. Understandably, the health crisis will no doubt make these promises less of a priority as massive investment and focus will be required to combat the pandemic. However, the UK will still have a housing deficit and the demand for infrastructure projects to keep up with a growing population, therefore this cannot be overlooked.  

The Construction industry is not a recession proof career, as history has told us. In the short term the construction industry is likely to feel the effects of Covid-19 and support from the government and the private sector will be much needed to ensure that the worst effects of Covid-19 on the construction industry is not actualised.

That being said the construction industry has overcome years of Brexit uncertainty and a deficit of labour supply. In return construction has developed resilience to political and social volatility. The spread of covid-19 arguably provides the industry with its largest challenge in a generation, but construction leaders are remaining optimistic that in the long-term it will be able to meet the demands the UK require.

The path to recovery is uncertain but likely to be slow, and this is an excellent opportunity to step back and prepare for your future, both construction companies and talent. A recent  article from the Institute of Civil Engineers states the need for talent. ‘Before the world was hit by Covid-19 we had a shortage of skills and talent to deliver environmentally important and engineering critical projects. This need for talent has not gone away in light of the current humanitarian crisis, it has potentially increased’ Mark Naysmith is the UK & ZA Chief Executive Office at WSP

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