Change needed in construction industry according to MSPs

AN inquiry into the Scottish construction industry has called for greater thought for long-term value and more emphasis on technology.

MSPs on the Economy, Energy and Fair Work committee revealed the findings of the inquiry – which was held in a bid to understand the characteristics and challenges of construction in Scotland.

A number of issues were highlighted, which included: the need for focus on long-term value rather than lowest cost methods – with the Scottish Government to consider how public authorities and businesses can be better supported to make this a reality; sector-specific approaches needed to apprenticeship frameworks to tackle ageing workforces, skill shortages and lack of diversity in construction; women only accounting for 12% of the 147,000 strong construction workforce in Scotland; innovation and off-site manufacture being stifled by planning regulations and resistance to change – with new technology imperative to productivity.

Committee convener, Gordon Lindhurst MSP said, “The construction industry in Scotland is valued and plays a significant role in the economy, but there are also longstanding challenges which we have set out in this report. A failure to focus on long-term value rather than simply on lowest cost, and a lack of finance are some of the barriers to productivity in the industry. While we saw pockets of good practice there was a lack of overall necessary change evident. For the sector to realise its potential and be equipped to tackle these challenges, the Scottish Government must work together with industry to facilitate change across the whole sector.”

He continued, “This was the first time the committee has done an inquiry looking at a whole sector and how it contributes to the economy. Only with sector wide leadership, collaboration and cultural change, will the construction sector be able to share best practice, tackle these challenges and achieve its full potential in contributing to Scotland’s economy.”