If the industry is going to survive and thrive we have to continue to pull together, writes Mark Castle

Mark castle bw 2018

So many things in construction have changed in the four decades I have been working in the industry. In areas such as health and safety, tech, manufacturing and diversity, we have seen significant change that has improved performance, reliability and saved countless lives.

I have now come to the end of my tenure as chairman, and I’m in the process of handing over to my successor. When I look back over the past two years, I think we can lay claim to genuine progress.

If the industry is going to survive and thrive we have to continue to pull together

In Brendan Kerr – chief executive of Keltbray who will be taking over my role as chair of Build UK, I’m confident we have the leadership skills to take the organisation forward. 

In areas such as collaboration and cross-sector working, the industry has been fragmented and slow to improve. It is only recently this has begun to change. Four years ago, we came together as an industry to form Build UK with the intention to create a single collective voice for the entire sector; from clients and institutions to contractors, trades and suppliers. 

Since 2017, I have been fortunate to serve as chair for Build UK, overseeing a fantastic programme of engagement and policy work. I’ve been proud to support Suzannah Nichol and the Build UK team and to work with others in the industry to devise solutions to problems that have hampered progress for years.

The successes we’ve seen at Build UK – on areas like pre-qualification, payment performance and contract conditions – have shown that when we work together we can build a better industry for everyone.

On payment performance, for example, Build UK has had a tangible effect, reducing payment times, improving operating conditions for suppliers and helping to ensure that our industry is more resilient. Rarely has the future been so uncertain for the UK economy and our place within it – and yet with uncertainty comes opportunity. 

Challenges are coming our way – from the potential of a no-deal Brexit to a worsening skills shortage – and if the industry is going to survive and thrive we have to continue to pull together. 

The reality is that the modern construction industry is an exciting and dynamic place to work, with huge opportunities on offer within a fast-paced technological change already happening on sites and projects across the UK.

Mark Castle is deputy chief operating officer for construction at Mace