Nostradamus didn't say anything about what the construction industry would look like in 2033.
So, by way of a farewell to the industry as I retire from the post of construction minister, let me fill in the gaps.

Thirty years ago, in 1973, nobody was predicting multichannel television, the existence of the internet, or the dominance of the DVD. Yet they came about because of a combination of technological development and our drive for change. Those same forces will drive change in the construction industry.

The vision we had five years ago, while working under the Rethinking Construction umbrella, is being realised today.

Key performance figures recently published by DTI and Construction Best Practice, the organisation tasked with raising standards across the industry, show that the demonstration projects envisaged under that initiative are outperforming the rest of the industry. Barriers are being broken down in the supply chain, and that is leading to a sharper focus on the needs of the client. So we are can outline a vision for the industry – and much of it is contained in the Accelerating Change initiative. That says: "Our vision for the UK construction industry is to realise maximum value for all clients, end users and stakeholders, and exceed their expectations through the consistent delivery of world-class products and services."

Based on the progress to date and the broad support that vision has among the industry and its clients, I am confident that it is achievable. This is because:

  • Ever-increasing customer expectations will drive further industry improvements. Clients will be more socially aware and will demand more sustainable performance throughout the lifetime of a building.

  • Design, construction, operation and demolition will become an integrated process, with everyone working in closer partnerships to focus on adding value for the client. Distinctions between "construction", "property", "facilities management" and "service" companies will become less obvious.

  • Integrated teams will focus on adding value and driving out activities that waste time and money. Boundary differences will decrease, enabling expertise, innovation, materials and so on to flow between all sectors to meet emerging client needs.

  • Buildings will be more sophisticated. Their design, the products from which they are made and the way they are maintained will ensure optimum performance.

  • Buildings and infrastructure will be flexible to allow for change in use, and the distinctions between private and public space will become blurred.

  • The quality mark will have become a widely used resource, allowing consumers to be sure they are hiring reputable firms to carry out their domestic improvement work. The scheme will also encourage firms at the margins to come in from the cold and work acceptably.

    Is this too much to expect in a 30-year time horizon?

    I don't think so.

    All too often I hear the cry: "We'll change if you require public sector clients to set standards or if government sets regulations." I do, of course, accept that the government has a key part to play. But the industry can't afford to wait: its external competitors are are waiting and watching, hoping to expand into the UK market. It can protect itself by backing the trends I've listed. It's what everybody wants, and the technology will be there to enable it to happen.

    Goodbye – and good luck. I don't think you'll need it too badly.