Construction industry is vital to future of the UK economy, CIOB stresses to new government

Following one of the most unpredictable general elections in recent years, in which the Conservative Party is projected to form a majority government the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) has stressed the importance of the construction industry to the UK economy, infrastructure and employment.

Eddie Tuttle, senior policy & public affairs manager at the CIOB said: “The quality of the built environment affects every aspect of society. This presents the industry with a number of challenges, and a number of opportunities to deliver real, long lasting change.

"What is clear is the sector’s contribution to the economy. Here in the UK, the construction industry officially accounts for around 6.3% of GDP and 10% of total employment – although we believe these figures under-represent the true reach of the industry.
 
“With a shrinking skills base, the sector is facing a number of challenges – not least the need to deliver more homes and infrastructure than we have witnessed previously.”
 
Boosting the construction workforce and addressing the skills shortage through greater support for apprenticeships, training and mentoring schemes is crucial, the CIOB insists. 
 
Tuttle added: “Whilst pledges that detail a commitment to the number of apprenticeships and graduates represent a significant shift in the right direction - and will undoubtedly help the industry with its response to the current skills shortage, there is a pressing need to change the image of the construction industry in order to attract the best, and the most skilled individuals. 
 
“To achieve this, the industry needs strong leadership and greater recognition - across the political spectrum - of its strategic importance. By establishing a close dialogue with industry professionals, this Conservative-led government has the potential to raise the profile of construction and alter the public persona of a career in construction.”
 
Housing featured strongly within the Conservative manifesto and the CIOB has called for at least 200,000 new homes built annually, with added emphasis on quality.  But on the Conservative’s plans to extend Right to Buy to housing association tenants, Tuttle said: “The issue lies not with demand, but with supply. At a time when we are building barely half the homes that the country needs, evidence from the existing Right to Buy programme does not suggest that one house sold will result in another built.”
 
The CIOB is also calling for smarter regulation of the building industry in the wake of fewer minimum standards as well as greater investment in R&D and digital technologies, such as Building Information Modelling (BIM).

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