2019: What does the year ahead hold?

GARY Moug and Fraser Rummens recently asked a number of leading figures from the construction industry to discuss their view on what 2019 will have in store for the sector.


I want a happy, healthy and prosperous 2019 for everyone. That is hardly surprising from the Association for Project Safety – an organisation dedicated to eliminating deaths and cutting injuries and ill health associated with construction. But, sadly, the ‘happy and healthy’ still seems further off than the turn of the year. Fatalities and accidents remain worrying high, so January shouldn’t just be a time of person resolution but an opportunity for the construction sector to put health and safety first.

As for wealth, it’s a perennial wish but seems to be further away than ever. As Brexit looms every closer on the horizon the construction industry still has many challenges to face in relation to issues such as skills and staffing. Looking beyond the coming year I think people, like my professional members, will need to be on the frontline when it comes to maintaining and advancing the standards and regulations which have helped manage construction risk.

So, at APS, 2019 is already gearing up to be an important year. The government’s pledge to review the Construction [Design and Management] Regulations 2015 in 2020, means we need to use the coming year well, so any changes are effective and cost-effective.



DESPITE what 2019 is expected to throw at businesses, we are generally having positive discussions with the construction organisations that we work with for the year ahead. While there will undoubtably be some fallout from Brexit, we believe that it will be business as usual and recruitment to the industry will generally remain steady.

Hotels, schools and shopping centres still need to be built and people are needed to do this. We are also seeing homebuilders working flat out to ensure that homes are ready for people to move into.

However, for continued success, the industry needs to ensure that whatever waves Brexit creates doesn’t cause an industry-wide skills gap. As such, construction businesses must be open to people with the right skills to fill those gaps from a diverse range of backgrounds. If the skills gap ensues, developers must then consider adapting their site timescales by reducing the amount of properties built in a phase to match demand. It will subsequently be those organisations that demonstrate innovation that will win next year.

The gender gap within the construction industry will also need closer attention in 2019. Currently just 1.5% of modern apprentices within the construction industry are women. By better promoting the opportunities for growth for women in the construction workforce – from manual to technical roles – as well better promotion of women already working in construction, this will in turn hopefully encourage more women into the industry.



I look forward to the year ahead with much anticipation about how construction can work together more effectively to deliver real change by improving standards throughout our entire supply chain. Of course this comes against a backdrop of uncertainty in how Brexit may affect the growth and success of the industry. However, we as an industry must remain and continue to be optimistic in everything we do.

As a Scheme we are delighted to see the real commitment and determination in efforts to improve the image of our industry as a significant and increasing number of Scottish construction projects, both large scale and smaller projects, are realising the benefits in being a considerate constructor. On behalf of the industry, I look forward to more like-minded Scottish contractors, suppliers and clients of construction projects utilising the Scheme to help drive forward best practice within their organisation to create higher standards in consideration for the workforce, local communities and wider environment impacted by construction activity. Here’s to a successful 2019.



I think we will see the construction sector continue to grow in Scotland in 2019, partly thanks to the Glasgow City Deal.

Our biggest hurdle will be satisfying the demand of recruitment into an ageing workforce. Due to community benefit clauses in the tendering process, companies are now improving the engagement with local schools, authorities and colleges, which is a positive move.

We are benefiting from this process by forming partnerships with companies operating in the local authorities, opening the door to site visits and work placements. It has also allowed us to increase opportunities for students in positive destinations such as craft apprenticeships or similar, through the industry’s supply chain.

In 2019 I am expecting an increase in employer engagement with the wider education system, in order to help students gain real world experience. For Glasgow Clyde College in particular, we have already secured partnerships with Morrison Construction, as well as work placements for students and site visits with CCG and Ashleigh Building.



WE want 2019 to be the year that construction turns its waste problem on its head. At Zero Waste Scotland, we want to build an economy where waste is minimised, and we extract the maximum possible value from our resources.

Today, construction uses the highest amount of material resources of any sector in Scotland and sends the highest amount of waste to landfill. With raw material prices on the rise, that’s not just an environmental problem – it’s a pressure on your bottom line.

Since 2016, our free advice and support service has helped Scottish construction SMEs reduce their waste by 175,000 tonnes. In doing so, we’ve also saved these businesses close to £12m. We want to help accelerate that change next year.

From using sustainable natural materials that can be recovered and reused, to designing out waste, there are loads of ways of making your business more material efficient, reducing your waste and saving money. A large proportion of your waste stream has value and many businesses are reusing these or turning these resources into new products, creating economic opportunities and jobs.

If construction businesses can take on the waste challenge, 2019 can be a year filled with great opportunities.



2018 was a particularly challenging year for the civils sector in Scotland.

CECA’s own quarterly Workload Trends Survey found a decline in workloads over four consecutive quarters and little scope for future optimism. Our immediate hope is for better news in 2019 and concerted action from both the Scottish and UK Governments to support Scotland’s civils sector.

Retentions continue to be a huge difficulty for our members and we will continue to make the case for action at UK level to secure reform and greater fairness. Addressing this issue will not only ensure a fairer deal for SMEs, it will drive cultural change in the construction industry, supporting investment, productivity and economic growth.

Here in Scotland, our priorities will be three-fold. Firstly, on making the case for reform of procurement policy and in particular, an end to fixed price contracts in the public sector, where all risk is transferred to the contractor. Secondly, on promoting the case for a Scottish Civils Framework that recognises the largely SME nature of our sector and delivers tangible value to public sector bodies. Finally, given the recent statistics showing the percentage of female apprentices in engineering is still not rising, we’ll be supporting initiatives to make civil engineering an attractive and accessible career option for all.



WITH over 600 employees located across Scotland, Springfield Properties has almost trebled its staff headcount in seven years. We expect this number to increase and we are taking every opportunity to train and mentor the next generation of construction workers to help directly address the industry wide skills shortage we are faced with.

Throughout last year, Springfield Properties proactively tackled this shortage by nurturing fresh talent through student placement programmes across the country. As a direct result of these placements, Springfield offered full-time employment to five interns within the last two years who now work for the firm or will do after completing their degrees.

In 2018 alone, we had 33 students join Springfield for work experience or summer placements across various disciplines in the company. Over 20% of our employees are apprentices, modern apprentices or in further education – a figure we are committed to maintaining.

We have established relationships with schools, universities and various councils and take on work placement students wherever possible. And we will continue to work with these organisations in the years ahead to cultivate the right talent to help the business grow and develop new talent.



COMMERCIAL property investment and office uptake reached record levels in 2018 and this looks set to continue with demand outstripping supply as we enter the new year.

We expect to see demand for multi-functional spaces continue into 2019 in keeping with the needs of the ‘WeWork’ generation – our working lives are much more flexible than they used to be, and spaces need to reflect this.

We’re also seeing businesses eyeing up potential office spaces early in the design process, with a number of buildings already pre-let in Scotland’s cities.

This allows for greater influence during the design process, adapting the functionality of the building to the specific needs of the business and its employees.



SCOTLAND has been lagging behind when it comes to build-to-rent projects for some time, but 2019 looks to be a strong year for development.

More and more people are choosing to rent and not only due to issues of affordability and lack of supply.

There’s more choice in the private rental sector than ever before, partly due to intuitive design providing flexible spaces suited to any lifestyle.

For example, city centre build-to-rent developments often have spaces to work, to socialise and to workout; giving a sense of community and affording renters options that wouldn’t otherwise be available.



With a number of projects currently underway or planned for next year, 2019 is going to be the start of a landmark period for the Clyde.

A combination of mixed-use developments accommodating office workers and visitors alike will cater to all needs and create a vibrancy throughout the day and into the evening on the banks of the Clyde. Glasgow Harbour Lifestyle Outlet, with the right mixture of retail, leisure and dining facilities, will help contribute to making Glasgow to be a city on the river, not next to it.

As we’re seeing in Glasgow, placemaking will become increasingly popular in the design and construction process throughout 2019, as Scotland seeks to breathe new life into its once forgotten fringes.