Positive attitudes

If you believed every politician and economist, you’d be a nervous wreck and suffering palpitations throughout the day. You’d also be none the wiser about how to position your business for the future. For those with a positive mental attitude, there is an exciting future ahead, but, what it will be and where it will take us are the big questions.

On one side we hear the phrase ‘skills shortage’, while on the other, forecasters start to see the market weakening. However, in the finishes sector, specialists tell me forward workload is strong and they are becoming more selective in what they bid for. More and more are adopting the mantra of turnover for vanity and profit for sanity.

Skills is a big topic this month. The industry has voted to allow the CITB to continue collecting levy (see page 18). It faced a blizzard of criticism and some influential trade associations voted ‘no’ against its proposal to continue the levy. Fifty years ago, CITB was created to plug the skills gap, yet today we still face a skills crisis. Despite the calls for reform, there is little in the way of strategy to show how, as CITB promises, it is actually going to change.

The CITB concept is a good one but, if I was only getting 35p in every pound I spent on training, as FIS members are, I would question its value. CITB is drinking in the last-chance saloon and if it does not start meeting its objective, and deliver the skills that a modern industry demands, then it surely faces the axe in three years.

Specialist contractors in the supply chain who are careful and flexible have the ability and skills to react to new and profitable opportunities. Fail to change or ignore new ways and you could be left behind. Just take a look at plastering where a historic craft is continuing to evolve, not just to meet established tastes, but to find new and more productive ways of working.

If you read the Balfour Beatty Innovation 2050 report and have been keeping up with the Digital Built Britain  initiatives, you’ll learn about how technology is going to change the sector in the future. Many say that they want to change and introduce new technology; however, the construction industry is inherently conservative and fears change. Remember – positive thinking brings positive results.