A Construction Strategy for Wales

Welsh Government has set out a plan for Wales in its two documents: Taking Wales Forward and Prosperity for All: the national strategy.

21st September 2017

Welsh Government has set out a plan for Wales in its two documents: Taking Wales Forward and Prosperity for All: the national strategy. The government points to the crucial five years ahead of us all, key priorities facing Wales such as an ageing population, climate change, healthy living and improvement in the economy and public services. This is a very welcome vision for the future with a specific reference to infrastructure: "We will invest in the 21st century connections we need to thrive and compete, joining up people, communities, businesses and services to drive prosperity."

Modern infrastructure, which is central the government vision, is a key enabler of competitiveness and productivity – the investment required often acts as a catalyst for wider regeneration and supporting vibrant communities. But to be effective this investment, with almost all its focus being delivered by Welsh construction, needs more detail.

It is why, as an industry we need to help Welsh Government by creating a strategy – which is the reason CEW is leading Construction for Wales Strategy Workshops around the country.

We can take as a starting point the papers produced by the UK Government has produced a series of papers. The most recent, Government Construction Strategy 2016-20, builds on the more well-known Construction 2025 paper. It outlines a new plan to increase productivity in government construction to deliver £1.7 billion efficiencies and support 20,000 apprenticeships over the course of this parliament. The strategy sets out ambitions for smarter procurement, fairer payment, improving digital skills, reducing carbon emissions, and increasing client capability. This echoes a lot of the ambitions of Welsh Government – indeed, some of it echoes the cross-cutting strategies outlined in Taking Wales Forward. But there is no comparable document for Wales focusing on construction.

Most of Government Construction Strategy 2016-20 applies in Wales and we do now have our own Welsh legislation in the form of the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 and the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. These two pieces of legislation alone will have a significant impact on the industry in Wales, but there is nothing binding them together. A strategy will link these ideas.

We need something specific and we believe a Construction Strategy for Wales is long overdue. It is why in September we held the first meeting of the Construction Strategy for Wales Task Group. It took the form of a facilitated workshop out of which a smaller working group – or groups – will take shape. The aim is to be constructive, not critical. Welsh Government has a tough balancing act – so there is a real need for industry to step up and help.

What we hope to do is take heed of one line in Taking Wales Forward: "The challenges that we face as a nation are complicated and inter-related and require us all to play our part."