CEWales E Bulletin December 2020

2020 – What a challenging year it has been! It is my family tradition to mark the year with a new bauble on the Christmas tree, this year was a rather different reminder. As well as singing 2020’s new Christmas hit - “san-it-isers coming to town”.

On reflection, COVID-19 has put many aspects of our lives under the magnifying glass. We have witnessed the loss of loved ones, large economic impact and effects on mental health, all of which are still ongoing. However, amongst all these negativities I take the ‘Pollyanna Principle’, with a view to be positive about the future. So, let us pause and reflect and look at the ways in which we all play a part in how we want society and our built environment to look, to which construction is at its heart.

During 2020, the construction industry returned to work quicker than other areas of the economy. However, health and safety measures such as social distancing meant that the capacity and level of work were not at the same level experienced prior to these restrictions being imposed. But as the year unfolded, we continued positive discussions on, re-constructing, construction for future generations, shovel worthy and not just shovel ready, build back better, turning the corner. The fundamental principle to all this is that construction is central to driving the foundational economy and every aspect of society in Wales forward.

Let us remind ourselves; construction is one of the foremost growing sectors in the Welsh economy. We have seen Infrastructure playing a key part in construction output and pipeline in Wales as well as growth set to be seen in private housing. We have had a lot of good to shout about including, Wales’ largest hospital, the Grange University Hospital project being handed over ahead of schedule. We see great improvements through optimized retrofit, to improve energy conservation in existing buildings. This also gives us the impetus to present a coherent and inspirational focus on asset modernisation as much of our housing stock, for example, is not fit for 21st Century when we consider energy use and hence carbon output. DfMA and MCC are key construction processes that can enhance social outcomes and respond to the climate emergency.  These approaches need to be mainstreamed and the sector capacity to design and construct this way needs to be significantly enhanced.  This requires collaboration with the manufacturing sector and links back to R&D.

This brings our thinking to the skills agenda where new skills will be required. We have a large ageing population in Wales, so succession planning needs to be considered to ensure the skills gap is bridged. We will also need to meet the challenges in which ICT demands, ensuring a wider skills base in ICT to integrate design, construction, logistic and manufacturing. As well as MMC impacting on trades involved with repair and maintenance.

We have all gone through this together, enduring the same storm albeit in different boats but the future is all about co-operation and collaboration. By amalgamating intelligence, we can influence change and secure a sector fit for future generations.

To drive change, we at CEWales champion a greater uptake of best practice, call for stronger regulation on quality and planning controls, placing emphasis on whole-life thinking, design and eco-efficient construction.

You are the people to drive change and have the knowledge to inform decision makers on what is needed. By joining CEWales you enable us to work for you to release this ambition. As the united voice of the construction sector in Wales, we help shape what ‘good’ or ‘exemplars’ in construction is. We need your help to inform us of the real time issues in order to drive change and enable CEWales be your vehicle to make these things happen.

We very much hope we have your ongoing support to continue to work together in 2021.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Catherine Griffith-Williams
CEO Constructing Excellence in Wales