Collaboration across the industry will be crucial if we are to deliver on the Construction 2025 vision

Peter Jacobs

In my last blog I explored how the skills shortage was one of the serious challenges for the industry to overcome if we are to make the step change required to achieve the aspirations of Construction 2025, the Industrial Strategy for Construction.

This month I discuss collaboration as one of the potential enablers.

I recently spent two intriguing days at Talk Construction, the conference hosted by the CIOB at the Queen Elizabeth ll Conference Centre, Westminster. 

One of the messages from Talk Construction was the need for more collaboration as an enabler for Construction 2025. 

I gave a presentation of the feedback from CIOB members across the UK.  Although only 53% of respondents were aware of the Industrial Strategy the need for greater collaboration was a recurring theme in all the feedback.

Reforming government procurement and more collaborative working are familiar and recurring themes

In his key note speech, Paul Dreschler the chief executive of Wates, referred to three previous reports.  Constructing the Team (Latham 1994), Rethinking Construction (Egan 1998) and Never Waste a Good Crisis (Wolstenholme 2009).

All called for greater collaboration at all levels of the industry.  The reasonable question to the audience of construction professionals was “what is different in 2013 and what will be different in 2025?”

As an introduction to my presentation I confessed to the audience that 33 years ago I worked as a Junior Resident Engineer on the substructure phase of the conference venue, which was then known as the International Conference Centre.

I worked for the Property Services Agency, a centralised government agency which attempted to modernise government procurement! 

The substructure was delivered by John Mowlem as a traditional contract whilst the superstructure was delivered by Bovis Construction using a more collaborative form of contract to encourage early contractor engagement.

Reforming government procurement and more collaborative working are familiar and recurring themes. So some things just do not change over time!

But some things have changed beyond recognition. The technology available 33 years ago was ink on tracing paper drawings and typewriters.  No sign of a computer or mobile phone on site and certainly no understanding of the potential impact of BIM.

In my view the main reason for optimism that we can achieve the aspirations of Construction 2025 is that the new and rapidly evolving power of technology provides tools and methodologies such as BIM that demand a culture of collaboration.

The combination of the efficiencies inherent in the technology combined with the collaboration required to unlock those efficiencies is a powerful force for change.  

Those organisations that engage with this culture will be enjoying the benefits and be will at the forefront of an industry making the necessary step change towards Construction 2025.

Peter Jacobs is managing director of Morgan Sindall in London and president of the CIOB