8th May Journal Column

Web-LogoBy Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

As I write this, the UK election campaigns are drawing to a close. Following weeks of campaigning all around the country, tomorrow we will find out whether the coalition are here to stay or if a new Government is about to disturb the number 10 party.

It’s a nervous time for all those involved, particularly for individuals like current Construction Minister Nick Boles who, having only been in his role less than a year, is unlikely to stay around much longer, whatever the outcome of the election may be.

The Construction Minister role has never been a popular job, and this time around, it’s likely to only be critiqued even more as the focus on our industry being the catalyst for further economic growth increases.

This got me to thinking, we all comment on how well, or not, the person in the hot seat is doing, but when asked what it is that we want to see from the next Construction Minister, how many of us could give a succinct answer? The biggest things on my list would be how we make BIM a standard working practice in all construction jobs, how we make our industry a leader in technology practices and how we continue working towards achieving Construction 2025 and beyond. But there are many other things the person in question will need to consider too…

Take the BIM Task Group for instance. The group was put together following the release of the Government Construction Strategy document back in 2011 that stated all Government construction projects needed to be using collaborative 3D BIM by 2016, with all other projects, hopefully, quickly following suit. Yet, four years in and despite receiving funding for Level 2 and a budget to kick off Level 3, the group is effectively in limbo. The next Minister, in my opinion, will need to focus on bringing this organisation to the forefront of the work we’re doing as an industry, giving it a clear plan of where it needs to go so that it can, in turn, encourage and facilitate change in our industry.

I also think it’s about time that BIM started to grow up; it’s been around in our industry at a low level for a few years now and has been focused predominately on savings but we now need someone who will help us take it to the next level where it is all about efficiencies and collaboration. It’s a big ask, I know, and isn’t something that will change overnight, it will be a long process to stop people from being cagey about information and wary of breaking boundaries and collaborating outside of their organisation, but it’s something we must work towards if we want BIM to be universal practice.

Ultimately, we need somebody to take on the role that understands our industry and the impact technology, BIM in particular, will have on the future of our construction. Basically, somebody who walks the walk, rather than just talks the talk.