Leader: It’s within our power to change the industry

Story for CM? Get in touch via email: [email protected]


  1. To survive, our industry needs to be more positive and more receptive to customer aspirations. The growing Self Build sector of the housing market is indicative of disaffection with the standard of offerings from the commercial sector. Change is essential if the industry to survive, but it doesn’t need to be revolution.
    ICF systems offer one route to more and better construction using existing resources. The resilient building method makes use of existing trade skills, production output is significantly better than traditional construction and performance standards are well ahead of Building Regulations, now and for a Sustainable future. Not only that, but the ICF building process is attractive to the younger generation and apprenticeships are shorter than for traditional skills.
    By increasing productivity and building to higher standards with locally sourced labour and materials, ICF is already competitive, and as production levels continue to increase the regional economics will become ever more obvious.

  2. (What’s different this time around is that the industry is facing an unprecedented skills crisis and could see a 20-25% decline in the available labour force within a decade).
    “The skills crisis is nothing new that has been on the cards for years”
    (This is chiefly due to retiring older workers leaving a skills gap that, thanks to Brexit, may no longer be plugged by Eastern European labourers and skilled tradespeople).
    There is a bit of confusion here, on the one hand the apparent lack of training. 2 bemoaning the potential loss of Eastern European workers. 3. The demand is for faster building technology that requires less highly skilled professionals

  3. Robin, with regards to ICF are you referring to: Insulated Concrete Form?

    ICF may be more sustainable if it allows one to use less concrete compared to using plywood form-work. However concrete is not a sustainable material given its high embodied carbon emissions.

  4. We are never going to change this industry if we continue to believe, clearly as the Government do, that mandated computer programmes and systems can both initiate and drive change. It can’t and it won’t. People make change happen and both contractors and clients need to be the catalyst to change. My experience would suggest that clients can lead change, but rarely do contractors. There are not enough contractors doing R&D, Universities do not see construction as being a key industry and most clients, led by moribund consultants, are not prepared to take the risks of change to move on. Get to the people and you will get your change!

  5. I always get worried when people say ‘requires less highly skilled professionals’. Isn’t that why we are where we are now – poor/less qualified/trained workers? Why should youngsters take up a profession that is ‘less skilled/professionai?It’s time employers woke up and started making the industry worth working in – oh yeah! – that would mean spending money on training

  6. Hello Adam,
    Insulated Concrete Formwork (ICF) does use less concrete than plywood as the permanent protection of the insulation reduces the depth of cover required in the concrete. Today’s concrete is increasingly sustainable, as it makes use of other waste materials to produce energy for the manufacturing process and also as cement substitutes – not forgetting the potential for recycling aggregates. As regards Sustainability, the durability of ICF construction is out in front of the pack when Life Cycle Costing is taken into account.

  7. Hello David,
    The reality in the UK is that we are reluctant to pay the rate for highly skilled professionals and we haven’t been training them anyway.
    The attraction of ICF construction is that it is a relatively simple and practical method of building which is attractive to young school leavers. Initial experience with ICF methods opens up the industry for them to upgrade to craft skills – if they want to.
    Modern materials systems improve performance and productivity, but training is still essential for an efficient industry.

  8. I fully agree with David Miller. Computer systems like BIM are not by themselves going to create the kind of improvement the industry needs and can achieve.

    Until projects start to establish truly collaborative project teams, and then ensure those teams exploit the collaborative team to remove wasted time and money embedded in the current methods, then simply adding a BIM system to today’s dysfunctional approaches is not going to help!

Comments are closed.

Latest articles in Opinion