Kick-starting the economy through construction and infrastructure

Kick-starting the economy through construction and infrastructure
Published: 17 April 2020

After over three weeks of national lockdown, the government has recently given the go-ahead for organisations involved with HS2 to commence construction, with COVID-19 safety guidelines being observed, of course.

At a time where the phrase ’unprecedented and uncertain times’ has become commonplace (and with good reason), the government’s announcement offers a much-needed boost to transportation, construction and infrastructure in the broader sector and, so in turn, the wider economy.

The construction market supplies approximately £117 billion to the UK economy, roughly 6% of total economic yield. From a talent perspective, this translates into 2.5 million jobs within the UK. Whilst these figures are certain to diminish following the COVID-19 pandemic, what does offer promise is the steady and sustainable recovery following the 2008 financial crisis. Major transportation projects will be a key player in once again rebuilding and sustaining future growth to the market, creating opportunity in areas where it is needed most, such as engaging with specialist talent.

Employment uncertainty has been rife through all corners of the construction and infrastructure supply chain, from tier-one contractors right through to the independent specialist suppliers of materials, goods and services. What the recent greenlight with HS2 signal shows, is that wheels are starting to turn once again, and that scheme design can translate into actual construction. In turn, this offers those in the industry a commitment of confidence that work will commence, and supply chains will be repopulated with talent.

The government’s announcement does offer reassurance and demonstrates forward thinking to those immediately involved; however, we can only hope that the same attention and commitment will be invested into other major transportation sectors, such as aviation. In the current climate, the aviation infrastructure sector is amid a period of increased insecurity, where major projects, such as expansion, have been cast into further doubt and timescales extended without deadlines. As a result, like many industries, the sector has been hit hard in losing valuable, longstanding, committed talent from operations to project delivery, interim to FTE, all as valuable as each other in their relative supply chains. Whilst, in the short, insecurity does not offer any solace to those involved, the industry will be able to take some comfort from the fact that aviation is a gateway to the world, key in rebuilding and expanding international trade and, more importantly, it is all enabled by the infrastructure that supports it.

Across the sector, challenges have been seen at every turn. Difficult and unexpected decisions have had to be made by those in positions of leadership, with limited notice. The strong leadership and flexible and pioneering approach that construction and infrastructure organisations have and are taking position the infrastructure sector well, considering the circumstances. Already, brave stands have led to the completion of critical projects such as the Nightingale Hospitals, both in London and Birmingham. These innovative methods applied to unforeseen events will stand the industry in good stead for getting the country back up and running.

All major infrastructure projects offer key contributions to the economy, however, those that connect the UK, either domestically or internationally, are vital lifelines to kickstart the industry back into action and have Britain open for business again. 

For more information, please contact Joe Hughes, a consultant in our Infrastructure practice.

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