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OPINION: The South – Typical of UK or isolated success story?

Construction Enquirer this week ran a story on the state of the construction industry across the UK.  Its was pretty gloomy reading, with highlights, or lowlights as follows:


  • The latest bellwether IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Total Activity Index posted 43.3 in September – down from 45.0 recorded in August where anything below 50 represents contraction.


  • The drop was the second-strongest since April 2009 and broad-based across all three categories of construction work.


  • Commercial activity was the worst-performing segment while civil engineering activity dropped at its sharpest rate for close to a decade while residential building recorded a fourth successive monthly fall.


Reading the news, in general, I see doom and gloom, I see Trump trade wars and Brexit, politicians at war. Maybe the survey is correct? Maybe we are heading into another recession and financial crisis?


Based on the news, one would have thought that we would be panicking, wondering where the next scrap of work was coming from. However, having just delivered our busiest three months since starting the business 10 years ago, I just don’t see this gloomy picture.


I see work everywhere. I see housing developments aplenty, be it thousands of houses around Hedge End & Whiteley or major schemes in Southampton City Centre.


I see highway works aplenty, M27/ M3 smart motorways, Wokingham highway upgrades, Stubbington and Botley Bypasses, and Portsmouth major highways upgrades.


I see major works in both Southampton and Portsmouth docks along with two major Sea defence schemes in Portsmouth.


The Construction Enquirer report also mentioned the fact that the construction sector is still busy recovering from the effects of the last recession that left the industry with a severe skills gap and lack of capacity.


However, here at SLS we are well aware of this situation and have been actively working on filling the skills gap by investing in our new, younger construction staff by providing them with the necessary skills, training and experience they need to forge a career in the construction industry.


We see this as a positive action to give something back to the industry while helping to build the next generation of skilled labourers that can work on civil engineering and construction projects.


By investing in young people wanting to get a foot in the door within the construction industry, we are also helping ourselves because most of our new recruits go on to continue to work with us at SLS, gaining more valuable experience and workplace knowledge.


We have an optimistic outlook for the future of the construction industry and believe that through our commitment to training the next generation of skilled labourers, we will be well equipped to handle all the new projects that come our way, especially when the industry and our economy sees an upturn – as we predict may well happen in the not too distant future.


Maybe real life isn’t quite as bad as the news would have us believe. Maybe in the south, we are lucky, in an economic bubble, insulated from the rest of the country and world.


Or maybe good news just isn’t as newsworthy as doom, gloom and general misery.


Time will tell……. ”


Richard Allen, Managing Director of Skilled Labour Services (Southern) Ltd


About Author : Liane Power

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