How the pandemic could be ‘positive’ for the construction sector | Wates

How the pandemic could be ‘positive’ for the construction sector

Wates Chief Executive David Allen explains to Construction News how the Coronavirus crisis has helped accelerate some much-needed change not only within the Wates Group, but across the sector.

In a wide-ranging interview in October 2020 with CN’s News Editor, Ian Weinfass, David Allen said the industry had had a “good crisis” and its reputation in society had been enhanced because it was able to continue working during lockdown and because of the government attention it received. Both factors, which might be crucial in helping attract talent and tackle the skills shortages in construction.

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A ‘good crisis’?

“I think the sector has had a good crisis. The industry has been more open, collaborative and supportive that we usually give ourselves credit for,”

“I am optimistic that the way in which our sector has kept going, and the economic and social significance of our sector is enormous, and I think that’s now much more recognised than it was nine months ago. We’ve done better than a lot of other sectors and, long term, maybe that will make our sector even more attractive to lots of people who are looking where to build their careers in the world that follows the crisis.”

Social justice

A major focus of the interview is social justice, and David speaks passionately about the need to encourage diversity and inclusion, and particularly, to tackle racism.  He discusses Wates’ “anti-racism listening groups” where black and Asian workers spoke about their life experiences.

“It was some of the most powerful and draining and thought-provoking sessions of my career. We recognise that we’re on a journey and we’re learning in that area and it’s a journey we’re going to continue in because it’s important.”

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