There are a number of significant challenges facing the construction industry these days, some of which are out of our control. Brexit is going to have a huge impact on the country as a whole, and our industry will not be unaffected, whatever the future holds. As we’re yet to completely understand how Brexit will play out, it’s difficult to speculate but there are other challenges we see rising to the top of our agenda.
To develop the industry and keep up with the pace of other countries, we need to look at ways to make use of emerging technologies and practices, while working together as much as we can. This not only means that ideas are shared amongst us, keeping us abreast of innovations, but we can also be more efficient in our activities if we are to create an enhanced built environment for the UK.
The Construction Leadership Council’s (CLC) Innovation in Buildings workstream, of which Saint-Gobain UK and Ireland’s General Delegate, Mike Chaldecott is chair, aims to embed new approaches to all phases of the construction process for buildings to achieve enhanced productivity in the industry.
Last year, the workstream published a report identifying the barriers preventing the widespread adoption of smart methods of construction, including BIM. The report established that a lack of collaboration was the main challenge facing the industry, in addition to a lack of demand and low investment in suppliers who can support Smart Construction.
Improving the capacity, productivity and adoption of technology in construction, such as BIM, are key aspirations for the government, as success in these areas will benefit the UK economy, and the construction sector more specifically.
At its heart, BIM is a collaborative tool that reduces waste and risk of error, and facilitates the sharing of detailed information that leads to better buildings, throughout the design, construction and operational phases of a building’s life cycle. So through a collaborative approach, it is clear that BIM will benefit the architect, specifier, contractor and end user, as well as the economy.
However, innovation such as adoption of new methods or technologies, can often only be seen to benefit the ‘big players’, ignoring the emerging talent. Much of the innovation we see today comes from SMEs, so we think it’s crucial to engage with SMEs and entrepreneurs. We can use our expertise to work with them and develop solutions together.
SMEs require many different skills to be successful, dealing with every aspect of the business, including staff recruitment, building customer relationships, marketing and money management. However, many small companies struggle to grow adequately, as business owners can sometimes lack the management and entrepreneurial skills to match their technical abilities.
They can therefore benefit from training and support in areas such as cash flow forecasting, employment legislation, sales pipeline management, purchasing and other essential business disciplines – something we’re keen to help them with via our Entrepreneurship Foundation.
The year-long programme offers free mentoring and training on a variety of business areas to help entrepreneurs thrive. The businesses involved will have the opportunity to develop long-term partnerships with Saint-Gobain brands, opening up new business opportunities for years to come.
Saint-Gobain set up the programme as we believe that a stronger skills base and access to a talented workforce benefits the local economy as well as future proofing the construction industry, especially at a time when the industry is seeing a significant skills gap, which is estimated to continue to widen.
We’re in the process of recruiting this year’s entrepreneurs and we’re looking forward to sharing their stories as they take part in the training, so make sure you keep up to date on the Entrepreneurship Foundation by signing up to our newsletter: http://www.saint-gobain.co.uk/subscribe-to-saint-gobain-news/ .