Collaboration. The idea is not new by no means; in fact, it emerged over 20 years ago in the Latham report closely followed by Egan’s ‘Rethinking Construction’, urging reform and encouraging both partnering and collaboration in favour of adversarial and ineffective practices . This begs the question, why is the industry still being called to collaborate.
Last year the government engaged Mark Farmer (chief executive and founder of Cast Consultancy) to investigate and identify solutions prevalent for the future of the industry. The outcome of which, we are to ‘Modernise or Die’.
It is important to note that things are not all doom and gloom, the industry has developed in recent times with improved health and safety on sites, reduced of environmental impacts and increased risk awareness. However, even with these kind of positive developments, it is evident that the industry still has a long way to go. With aging workforces and with 20% of employers reporting skills gaps it is important that the industry collaborate to secure a bright future for construction and infrastructure.
I believe the most effective forms of collaboration will be:
- increased early contractor involvement, taking and sharing lessons from previous life cycles along with collective risk pain and gain between parties
- cross generation learning, attracting and retaining fresh new talent into the industry through schemes such as ‘Open Doors’, ‘design… engineer… construct!®’, along with optimising innovative technology and creative ideas via new applications that create real-time data between site and the office for example
- cross industry sharing of ideas and best practice via joint ventures, groups such as Constructing Excellence, and networking clubs to name a few
- engagement and partnerships with supply chain engagement who are experts in their field and are renowned for their agility and originality
That said, I am open to exploring other possibilities and with the imminent General Election around the corner, there is definitely a contagious desire in the air to commit to the growth of the industry and the improvements that are required. To paraphrase Mr Farmer, let us stop talking about it, and make it happen.
In his government-commissioned report Modernise or Die, Mr Farmer claimed that unless the industry and government did more to tackle key problems – such as an ageing workforce, lack of new entrants and failure to embrace technology – the sector was at risk of implosion