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Significant trends in the current construction & civil engineering landscape

  • By
  • Divisional Manager Civil Engineering

When looking at the latest developments in the civil engineering and construction sectors of the economy, it is already commonly accepted that government policies are one of the biggest drivers for change. With a majority vote and the stroke of a pen, vast sums of money can be made available for investment in infrastructure and any company in this field needs to recognise the importance of current affairs when planning for their future. In 2014, it may be tempting to assume that the economic downturn has taken its toll across the globe, but the fact of the matter is that there are regular opportunities to tender for significant contracts.

Taking the UK as an example, there are elements that appear to be bucking the national trend for austerity and caution. In March 2014, the Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index demonstrated that civil engineering had overtaken house building as the area of construction with the highest rate of growth – many industry analysts believed that this was related to the need for improved flood defences after a prolonged period of severe weather. Any failure to react to the flooding would have been an instant ‘vote loser,’ and this has led to a healthy increase in government-backed building projects to protect vulnerable areas. Companies that operate in this area need to follow these high-level discussions with great interest or they risk missing out on opportunities.

Global demand for clean and renewable energy is also something that requires close attention from civil engineering companies, and the closure of coal mining facilities may provide a unique opportunity for businesses that are willing to take the initiative. Once again, this is a civil engineering project that is driven by government policies at the very highest level and the EU has already publicised their renewable energy target - 20% of all power by 2020. Any construction company that can support this can also benefit from relatively low barriers to trade throughout the European Union, so this is a good time to investigate expansion across the continent.

Confidence in the construction industry as a whole should lead to increased demand for skilled individuals at every level of the trade from labourers to project managers. In the UK alone, the CITB (Council and Industry Training Board) estimates that 184,000 extra employees will be required leading up to the year 2018. Construction businesses need access to qualified candidates or risk being lost beneath the wave of this upcoming demand.

In short, infrastructure projects are not going to stop but are in fact growing. Whether meeting urgent needs, such as flood protection, or ‘green energy’ concerns, civil engineering and construction projects are seemingly austerity-proof.

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