Industry is potentially facing years of continued uncertainty following Brexit, but it’s not all doom and gloom
Industry is potentially facing years of continued uncertainty following Brexit, particularly around issues such as labour availability and the costs of construction materials. However, it’s not all doom and gloom.
After years of underinvestment, we are now seeing a newfound consensus on the need to investment in major infrastructure, with large-scale investment plans from a third runway at Heathrow to Victorian-scale investment in our rail network. While this brings opportunity, there is also a feeling of concern and uncertainty and one area is unanimously worrying UK business: the pace of progress on the delivery of infrastructure projects.
This is hardly surprising given the impact that delays on delivering vital infrastructure can have on businesses, and the UK economy simply cannot afford to have important infrastructure plans thrown into the long grass and tarnished by never-ending reviews. Swift, decisive action is what’s needed to avoid critical infrastructure projects falling victim to decades of indecision.
It is also crucial that transport infrastructure is not planned in a vacuum. Housing, employment, schools and hospitals all play a vital role in ensuring the economic effectiveness of new infrastructure. Greater emphasis on sustainable, long-term planning of infrastructure to underpin economic growth is now needed.
For us and for many global businesses with UK operations, guaranteeing the free movement of people across borders will be essential for the delivery of large-scale and complex infrastructure projects. Equally important will be the need to continue to invest in the long-term resilience of UK skills. Employing locally, upskilling domestic labour, driving improved productivity and a commitment to training can be the catalyst for job creation and economic growth post-Brexit
Swift, decisive action is what’s needed to avoid critical infrastructure projects falling victim to decades of indecision
Many schemes, from rail upgrades to the Thames Tideway Tunnel, draw on similar areas of the supply chain, so this must also be recognised and planned for; with more done to integrate planning and create an environment that encourages the necessary delivery models, such as joint ventures, partnerships and alliances, to help accelerate delivery. After all, the UK does not have a monopoly on infrastructure deficit.
Safeguarding, attracting and developing a diverse range of people from a variety of different backgrounds is vital if we are to maximise individual opportunity and meet the wider economic need. We must address the increasing skills gap so that there will be enough skilled professionals to deliver the multitude of schemes when they ramp up in 2018 and beyond. The government, industry and schools need to be smarter at tapping into the engineers of the future. This is an exciting opportunity that must be grasped with both hands.