Now is the time for industry and political parties to address challenges facing the entire supply chain through the creation of a new manufacturing strategy, according to John Sinfield, new chairman of the Construction Products Association (CPA).
In a speech to 500 industry executives and government officials at the Association’s Annual Lunch last week, Mr Sinfield pointed out that the CPA recently forecast that the construction industry’s contribution to the wider UK economy will grow from £110bn this year to £130bn by 2017.
“A year ago we were suffering one of the worst quarters in recent memory, and speaking hopefully of the ‘dark before the dawn’,” he said. “We now have a firmly entrenched recovery underway across both the construction and manufacturing industries and the wider UK economy. This is the time for our industry to come together and speak with a coherent voice on a number of pressing issues.”
Mr Sinfield called upon policy makers and industry to recognise that, given recent political uncertainty, the country needs manufacturing to be underpinned by a vibrant, long-term, cross-party industrial strategy.
He continued: “The issues we face include the very real questions and regulatory uncertainty over energy security and costs, including carbon measures, the need to improve the energy efficiency of the existing housing stock in this country, the continuing difficulties many of our members have in accessing finance, and the need to replace a ‘lost generation’ of skilled labour across both construction and manufacturing.
“As chairman, I look forward to leading efforts to help bring key players together to find a way forward on these matters. Within the business community we have a wide range of business interests but a common goal, and our expertise and knowledge can offer policy makers credible, workable solutions.
“The Association is already undertaking a number of projects in support of the Industrial Strategy for Construction, which is at the heart of these matters. One is a study of a long-term projection of construction output and an analysis of the current level of capacity for construction product manufacturing.
“Another is to assess the regulatory and political risks that may inhibit further investment in businesses here. All of this will provide clarity and insight for policy-makers and help them appreciate the challenges we face.
“Our Association is also involved across the wider supply chain with important work such as the digitalisation of construction using Building Information Modelling, the actual-versus-designed performance argument, and ensuring a low-carbon, resource-efficient built environment.
“There is a tremendous amount of very important work to be done which will have a very real impact on our businesses,” Mr Sinfield concluded.