Evolution in action

“There’s often an unintended underlying theme in our features, even though they deal with different aspects of building services. This month, the motif is transformation.

The cornerstone of BESA president Tim Hopkinson’s speech at the Association’s annual gathering was the evolution of our industry in the face of challenges not only from government, but also our current business environment.

Change, he believes, is inevitable simply because the routes to our old way of doing things are closing off. We simply cannot continue to do what we’ve always done and hope to survive, never mind succeed.

But at a less all-encompassing level, our features on water and piped services also point to new approaches to processes such as sampling and valve technology. If systems exist which can automate checking of water quality, providing more certainty for endusers, then we should be more willing to adopt them.

In our Product Review pages, manufacturers are increasingly talking about their ability to deliver pre-manufactured kits which are assembled in the factory and delivered to site. A better, faster way of putting together efficient plantrooms for today’s buildings.

Digitised design, online training and offsite construction - the future is catching up with the construction industry, and it’s time to adapt or die.

One of the best ways to introduce change to our industry and the businesses in it will be to attract a younger generation that’s at home with these new ways of working - indeed, that will insist on working that way. EngineeringUK estimates that we need 150,000 engineering professionals to keep projects like HS2 and Heathrow on track.

Of course, construction has been risk averse, and the many small businesses in our sector feel too constrained to take on apprentices or less experienced staff. But large contractors are already feeling the squeeze when it comes to finding qualified trades. Companies who employ, train and build their own expertise will be creating a business differential that puts them ahead of the competition.

Taking on apprentices and equipping staff with the new skills our industry needs are not risks, they are investments that will pay dividends as the industry turns around and starts to grow again.”

Karen Fletcher

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