Construction Decade in Review: 2016 - Modernise or die

With a new decade nearly upon us, we decided to reflect on the events of the past 10 years, and the impact they’ve had on the construction industry. Back in 2016, the industry got the wake up call it needed…

Modernise or die. That was the overriding message coming loud and clear from Mark Farmer’s 2016 scrutinising review of the construction industry. The Cast Consultancy founder and CEO had delivered a no-holds-barred take on what the industry must do to survive.

The Farmer Review described the industry as having 10 ‘symptoms’ which explained why it was under performing:

  • Low productivity
  • Low predictability
  • Structural fragmentation
  • Leadership fragmentation
  • Low margins, adversarial pricing models, financial fragility
  • Dysfunctional training and funding delivery model
  • Size of the workforce and its demographics
  • Lack of collaboration and improvement culture
  • Lack of research and development investment in innovation

It’s quite a damning list but they are all issues that needed addressing. At the time, the UK was still getting its head around the implications of Brexit, following the referendum result earlier in the summer. Three years on and we’re still not sure what’s going on, but some progress has been made on Farmer’s prescription.

Revolutionising the sector

Farmer has championed innovative, modern methods of construction (MMC) as a key driver of change for construction. Though take up has been slow, there have been some exemplary developments. Swan Housing Association has led the way by setting up its own MMC arm, Nu Build. However, policy has been slow and those applying these new techniques will be looking to the next government for support on pushing the MMC agenda to help solve the housing crisis.

Technology has taken a leap, too. There are now a number of platforms and software packages designed to increase both productivity and collaboration on projects across the construction industry. The companies behind these products aren’t letting the Brexit turmoil hold them back either, as they use the opportunity to invest in research and development to keep driving the industry towards a technology revolution.

Construction’s image overhaul

There’s still work to be done to improve the construction industry’s image, but progress has begun. Gender parity and diversity have been championed by leading construction publications and many industry bodies and organisations in the sector. Now this message needs to be shared with schools and colleges – we need our younger generations to see that construction can be a diverse and exciting industry to work in. The burly builder or stuffy board director types still exist, but that’s not the future.

So, three years since Modernise or Die was revealed, there have been some positive steps. But they are baby steps. Here’s hoping for some industry-changing leaps as we jump into a new decade.

More posts in our ‘Construction Decade in Review’ series

2010: How a fragile coalition set the stage for the decade

2011: Leaning tower sets a new world record

2012: Construction takes gold

2013: Help to Buy mortgage scheme launches

2014: Construction health and safety failings hit home

2015: Construction Design and Management Regulations come into force


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About the Author: Vickie Cox

Vickie is our senior PR consultant, with experience in building strong media relations with the reporters who matter most, identifying the issues and opportunities of most interest to the media, and planning and implementing journalist contact programmes.

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