CIRIA Member Day 2013: The Industrial Strategy in Practice

On 16 May 2013, CIRIA hosted its annual ‘Member Day’ with an evening reception at the Royal Society and keynote presentations from Peter Hansford and Prof John Connaughton, University of Reading.

Bill Healy, Chief Executive of CIRIA, welcomed attendees and provided an overview of the changes that the industry has seen in the short time since Peter Hansford’s tenure as Chief Construction Advisor began in November 2012. Bill highlighted the continuing economic challenges, as well as changes to procurement models and the growth of new technologies such as BIM and off-site construction, as enablers for change in the industry.

Prof John Connaughton provided his own personal opinion on today’s construction industry, highlighting the need to build capacity and sounding a warning of the need to look at the corporatisation of professional services in the UK and internationally. John posed the question of whether market pressures and the trend of consolidation through mergers and acquisitions by the major international engineering consultancies and contractors, is leading to a more business-led approach to the construction profession. John questioned what the implications could be for knowledge transfer if knowledge begins to become more commoditised and noted that CIRIA is one of the few industry bodies devoted to dissemination of knowledge. In summing up, John questioned whether sustainability should be seen as an aspiration rather than an obligation and quoted the Danish architect Bjarke Ingels who calls for a “move from unsustainable hedonism to hedonistic sustainability.”

Peter Hansford then presented an overview of the forthcoming Industrial Strategy for Construction, describing it as a shared long-term vision for the industry, created with and developed for business, and with the full support from across Government. Peter noted that, when published, the Strategy should be seen as more than just a report, and will be an ‘agenda’ to enable the construction sector to grow and ultimately be an enabling sector for growth in the UK economy. Peter highlighted the benefits that the pipeline of major projects has brought, and is bringing, in helping the industry to plan ahead. The vision that Peter hopes the Strategy will set out is of an industry that operates in a safe and healthy manner, attracts the best talent who are equipped with the right skills, and one in which innovation is encouraged so that the UK construction industry is ready to capitalise on the vast opportunities for global trade.

The speakers’ presentations are available via the post-event information CIRIA webpage at www.ciria.org/events