A look back over 2018

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East

It’s that time of year again when everywhere you look there are reviews of the last 12 months and predictions of what we can expect from the year ahead. If I had to summarise what 2018 was like for our industry, I would say three things- progressive, amazing and bloomin’ hard work!

A new year is a natural point in time to stop, assess how things have gone over the past 12 months, look at everything that we’ve achieved and look at what we can do better in the coming year. While you can never predict exactly what the year ahead holds, I’m sure we all had a few things in mind, the outcome of Brexit being the main one, yet here we are one year later and still pretty much none the wiser. Instead, we got the collapse of Carillion, a never-ending winter and little Grenfell resolution.

We had the alarming statistics that 56% of female respondents to Building’s survey on women in construction had experienced sexual harassment and 33% been discriminated against on the grounds of sex in the previous 12 months. The gender pay gap report in April confirmed the disappointing news that most women in the industry work in low-paid roles. We also had the really scary news that low-skilled male construction workers are almost four times more likely to take their own lives than the national average, with the number of suicides in construction now six times higher than deaths caused by falls from height.

We didn’t get off to the best start of the year with snow and ice sticking around until the end of March, causing problems for the industry’s output in the first quarter. But eventually output picked up and the government published the Construction Sector Deal, which was the biggest investment in the industry in a decade, something we’d all been longing for. The deal, worth £420m aims to transform the industry by investing in new technologies to increase productivity and tackle the housing crisis. It supports the development of affordable, easy to construct homes and commits to increasing the number of apprenticeships starts and T Level placements.

Last month, the chancellor gave the final Budget before Brexit and it made some small adjustments but lacked bold, long-term commitments, which I think we all expected. I feel like I’ve been saying this year in year out, but with the fallout of Brexit still looming, who knows what next year holds. So, there’s just one thing left for me to say, from all of us at Constructing Excellence in the North East, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year. Let’s see what 2019 has in store for us – one thing’s for sure, it’s not going to be a quiet one.

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.