Construction sector sets out plans for continuing COVID-19 recovery... and beyond

While the construction sector is still struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, like the rest of Scotland, this week (6 October 2020) the Scottish Construction Leadership Forum, the collaborative initiative of Construction Scotland and the Scottish Government, set out its detailed COVID-19 recovery plan for the Scottish construction sector – ‘Rebuild Better’.

Against the background of new, stricter, COVID-19 restrictions in Scotland’s central belt announced on 7 October 2020, other restrictions throughout the whole of Scotland and worries of a second major spike in the virus, the plan is a welcome and brave attempt at steering the hard-hit construction sector on its continuing attempt at recovery from the worst effects of the pandemic. It is also more than that. It seeks to set out a broader, better vision for the sector in the longer term, taking the opportunity the pandemic affords to look at the bigger picture in construction – considering issues which, many would argue, needed to be addressed on a collaborative industry-wide basis even before the pandemic struck.

The plan, which is said to be the result of ‘unprecedented levels of collaboration across industry and Government’, recognises the importance of the construction sector to the Scottish economy and sets out the steps to be taken to aid the recovery of the sector and build a better industry for the future.

The plan concentrates on the practical steps to be taken, learning from the collective COVID-related experience of those operating in the construction industry. It sets out certain objectives already achieved and others to be achieved generally by December 2021 (Medium Term) and 2022 and beyond (Long Term). The plan covers everything from pipeline of work to fair commercial terms, skills and workforce, the transformation of work practices to enhance safety and productivity, the building of supply chain resilience and capability and better availability of sector data to inform decision making.

The aim of the plan is said to be the creation of a ‘productive, profitable, innovative, sustainable and socially responsible construction industry, offering quality jobs and fair work to a highly qualified and diverse workforce and a quality and life-time value product to its customers’. Its aims are high and all the better for that. It remains to be seen how effective the plan is and whether it will be blown off course by the continuing effects of the virus. The most important point, though, is probably that such a thing is being attempted, even if it might be a bumpy road with some unexpected turnings along the way and, ultimately, take a little longer to achieve than we would hope.

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