“Construction is a traditional industry in that it has been long established but that does not mean it isn’t innovative, diverse and dynamic; quite the contrary. For a sector that harps back to the Middle Ages, we are incredibly progressive and modern in our approach.
We are a sector bearing great responsibility. The success of Britain’s economy can largely be seen in the performance of construction, with many blaming the economic slump in the first quarter of 2018 on the ‘beast from the east’ and the subsequent impact on house building. As a sector, we wear this responsibility well, continuing to seek new methods and technologies that offer our clients construction solutions and help them to unlock opportunity to build and develop UK infrastructure. So hopefully the accerated growth in construction output to 2.7% that forecasters are predicting will also hold sway and positively impact UK fiscal performance.
I have spent my entire 20+ year career working in construction, having begun life as a graduate trainee before progressing to site manager and working my way up through project management to become operations director this year. Even in that comparatively short time, the industry has changed immensely and in very positive ways. For example, stricter policies safeguarding safety and health and new tools and techniques increasing the efficiency of our build programmes, have brought even greater levels of professionalism from site operatives. As regional operations director, I oversee a large project portfolio in the North West and I am continually heartened and impressed by the efforts of our site teams and supply chain to maintain a wholly respectful and supportive working environment.
Employee training and development is also broadening, which is why we are welcoming greater numbers of young people into the industry and why so many students are proactively seeking construction as a career of choice, not chance. At Wates, we offer a structured development programme for all our trainees, including bespoke technical, behavioural and professional development as well as placements within a range of core business functions. This is further supported by peer-to-peer mentoring. Whether a school leaver, apprentice or graduate trainee, new starters are guided through the right experience and learning to become professionally qualified and chartered with the relevant membership body.
Our efforts to protect the environment are also continually developing as we work towards carbon neutrality, strive to always source materials responsibly, ensure we embed the prinicples of a circular economy and protect and enhance local biodiversity on all projects.
By and large I think the industry is getting far better at promoting itself. Because we are a time-honoured sector and one with which everyone is familiar – the physical output of buildings that can be seen and touched in every day life make the product of our industry very recognisable – we have perhaps in the past been guilty of doing the do and not telling people how and why we’re doing it. In more recent years however, I have been very much part of the industry engagement with local communities, education providers and fellow businesses in order to champion the built environment.
We have a lot to proud of, we should be shouting about it. This is a progressive, inclusive and considerate industry and in a world where technology is king, one which is full of exciting opportunities. For as long as we need buildings to live in, work in and enjoy, construction will continue to change and evolve. For me, there’s no better place to be.”
Gavin Davis is Operations Director at Wates Construction in the North West.