The confirmation at the end of last month that the UK economy is officially in recession will have been a non-event to everyone in the construction sector

Coming after a government minister’s premature speculation about ‘green shoots’ of economic activity – a notion that at least provided a little black humour from the respondents in our vox pop poll – the news was a bit like telling someone suffering from a chronic illness that the disease has a new name.

Most businesses are only too aware they are in for a prolonged period of tough trading conditions, and managers in the sector are now having to manage change on a dramatic scale. Externally, the rules on tendering, marketing and client management have all been re-written. Internally, staff and colleagues will be facing uncertainty, re-structuring and the resulting dip in motivation and morale.

And that’s exactly why some construction companies have decided that management training and development should be a key priority. If the health of the business depends on delivering first-rate projects – and then finding innovative ways to replace them – businesses need managers who are confident of finding the way ahead and can pass on that confidence to staff.

Yes, training carries a cost, but companies can achieve results by re-allocating their budgets and harnessing the skills of senior staff.

Training is always a morale boost, showing staff their employer thinks they are worth investing in. When training opportunities are offered in a recession, that uplift is likely to have increased impact. And once the economic climate improves, its the staff who experience it who are more likely to stick around.