Industrial strategy progress report: early successes and future priorities

Industrial strategy: government and industry in partnership - progress report’ was published by Government in April 2014. The progress report provides an update of work that has taken place since the publication of Industrial Strategies (2013) across eleven sectors including construction and the report identifies future challenges and gaps in meeting the targets of these strategies.

The aim of the industrial strategies, including the Construction 2025 strategy, is for the whole of government to work in partnership with industry to set out and deliver long-term plans to secure jobs and growth.

The initial Industrial Strategy for Construction set out bold aspirations for 2025:
  • 33% reduction in initial and whole life costs
  • 50% reduction in overall time from inception to completion for   construction projects
  • 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment
  • 50% reduction in trade gap between total exports and total imports for construction products.
Within the progress report (p14-15) Sir David Higgins, co-Chair of the Construction Leadership Council, provides an overview of key updates within the Industrial Strategy for Construction.

The Government future pipeline of work in construction and infrastructure is continuing to be updated, the most recent iteration of which was published on 5 Dec 2013, and private sector pipelines are in development.
industrial strategy for construction 

The Construction Supply Chain Payment Charter has been approved by the Leadership Council in a bid to address and tackle payment issues and signatories will agree to a maximum 45 day payment period, and then reduce to 30 days by 2018. Procedures for monitoring performance of signatories are under development.

The report addresses skills shortages and highlights the house building sector as having the most acute problems. Although there is no specific mention of new skills required in new technologies such as BIM, opportunities to embrace the ‘big data revolution’ are captured in cross-cutting themes later in the report.
However, there is no mention of how the pipeline of work, in particular nationally significant infrastructure projects, could be used to identify skills gaps into the future.

Addressing sustainability issues in the construction industry, the joint Green Construction Board and Infrastructure UK “Infrastructure Carbon Plan” 2013 are mentioned, but there is no mention of broader sustainability targets such as those captured in the Strategy for Sustainable Construction.

The progress report also identifies the following cross-cutting themes across all eleven sectors; aerospace, agricultural technologies, automotive, construction, information economy, international education, life sciences, nuclear, offshore wind, oil and gas, professional and business services.

The cross cutting themes identify key areas and issues for government engagement with all industries, with the following key points most relevant to the construction sector: 

(page 37)
  • "Eight Great Technologies" are mentioned which collectively have received £600m investment. Those most relevant to construction are:
       big data revolution and energy efficient computing
       satellites and commercial applications of space
       robotics and autonomous systems
       advanced materials and nano-techs
       energy and its storage
  • The report highlights efforts to facilitate business collaboration to promote innovation, including the work of the Catapults and efforts to support small businesses; eg SBRI (Small Business Research Initiative)

Skills (page 43)
  • ‘Reinventing apprenticeships’ and creating uniformly high standards of quality in vocational education
  • Supporting pre-19s and developing national colleges (eg High Speed Rail College)
  • Improving STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) skills

Access to finance (page 46)
  • Creation of a new British Business Bank as state-backed economic development bank
  • Enterprise Capital Funds, Business Finance Partnerships and Wholesale Guarantees

Procurement (page 50)
  • Transparency of procurement pipelines, opening up public procurement and encouraging innovation (eg SBRI)
  • Support given to supply chains also noted, with particular mentions of recent reports on Tunnelling and Building Information Modelling (BIM)

Other cross-sector issues (page 54)
  • Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs)

CIRIA in collaboration with the CIC 2050 Group, will explore these challenges and focus on how the next generation of engineers, architects, and designers can influence and effect change today looking forward to 2050 at the ‘Future of construction’ event, 29 April 2014.