Where is construction’s inspirational leader during these troubled times – and more importantly, who is it?
In the wake of Carillion’s downfall, the chief executive of Colmore Tang Construction, Andy Robinson, asks the question that everyone else is thinking; where is the industry’s inspirational leader during these troubled times – and more importantly, who is it?
As the news of Carillion’s collapse continues to dominate the headlines and thousands of people in the industry are left asking what will happen next during this period of great uncertainty, I can’t help but wonder who is leading the way for construction during these difficult times?
When I look around at other key industries in the UK, I feel like there’s a champion for every sector but construction, and this is becoming more apparent with every day that goes by since Carillion went into liquidation.
If there’s a crisis in business, we expect to hear from Sir Richard Branson with some reassuring words of wisdom. When there’s a scandal in the world of science, we know that Professor Brian Cox will have something to say. If corruption is uncovered in the financial sector we can rely on Martin Lewis OBE to stand up for everyone that’s affected.
Then there’s the likes of retail tzar Mary Portas, who advises global businesses on industry best practice, plus Jaguar Land Rover’s CEO Dr Ralf Speth, leading the way for the British manufacturing sector.
So where’s our inspirational leader in the construction industry? Who’s our hero?
Considering construction accounts for around three million jobs in the UK – around 10% of total employment – it’s time we had a voice.
There’s no denying we have some fantastic organisations and regulatory bodies – including the NFB (National Federation for Builders), RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors), CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) and Istructe (Institution of Structural Engineers) to name a few – but there is a lack of cohesion across the board. There are in fact too many organisations who have ‘special’ interests across our industry and therefore the message is constantly diluted. We need someone who can speak up for us in these hard times and bring every corner of the industry together – otherwise all those excellent companies that exist in the sector stand the chance of being tarred with the same brush.
Is it the Government’s job? Maybe. Perhaps we do need someone who has a voice in Parliament to make substantial change and better our industry practices. If there was a representative acting on our behalf, championing our ideas and feeding back to the people with the power, we stand a better chance of being heard and seeing real change.
Or maybe it needs to be someone who has worked in construction – an industry leader from a well-respected organisation who can take charge and make a difference? A person that truly understands the challenges we face and who can point us in the right direction when we need it most.
It’s undoubtedly a big job and I’m by no means volunteering for the role, but without having that voice of reason and credibility, I fear the industry is only going to suffer time and time again.
If we want to encourage more young people to take up a career in construction, we need to have an aspirational leader for them to look up to. We simply cannot afford for fresh talent to be deterred from joining the industry because of the negative portrayal in the media.
We need to learn from the Carillion debacle and educate people. We have to spread the word that construction can be one of the most satisfying and well paid jobs in the world – because it really can.
There is nothing quite like turning someone’s plans into reality and standing in front of a finished development. The proud feeling I get when we complete a project never goes away because it’s a testament to our team’s hard work, ingenuity and innovation. I worry that this feeling of achievement will get lost on the new generations if we are not careful.
It might have left a bad taste in our mouths but I believe the downfall of Carillion is the wake-up call we needed. It’s time we stopped focusing on individual profit and instead looked at how the entire sector can overcome this difficult time together.
I just hope we find our industry hero sooner rather than later.