SCOTLAND’S construction industry needs ‘transformational change’ to prepare for the challenges of net zero, Scottish Government minister Ivan McKee has said.
Mr McKee made the statement in a keynote speech at SELECT’s President’s Lunch. At the event, he also highlighted the importance of a shared vision between Holyrood and the industry to achieve a ‘sustainable, profitable, and diverse’ sector.
The minister for business, trade tourism, and enterprise added, “Transformational change is needed across the industry to prepare for the new decarbonisation workload, constructing and refurbishing assets to meet net zero targets in a resource-efficient way.
“The next 10 years have been labelled the ‘decisive decade’. Every country is facing fundamental choices about how to recover from the pandemic; build a net zero economy; embrace new technology; and strengthen their position in emerging industries such as environmental technology, genomics, digital, cyber security, and robotics.
“By 2032 we want Scotland to be a wellbeing economy, thriving across economic, social and environmental dimensions.
“Deep retrofit of existing buildings, embracing low-carbon and low-energy materials and modern methods of construction are foundational to delivering our goals and I hope the industry will continue to collaborate with the Scottish Government and each other to meet the challenges of the coming decade.”
In an acknowledgement of the importance of training to the future of the sector, Mr McKee pointed out that the level of adult trainees and apprentices in the electrotechnical industry was at its highest level for 12 years.
The minister – an engineer who had his own international manufacturing consultancy before entering politics – also praised the ongoing work of the Construction Industry Collective Voice for facilitating the sector’s safe return to work after the pandemic.
He also highlighted the contribution of the Scottish Construction Leadership Forum (CLF) and revealed that the keenly-anticipated Scottish Construction Accord between the public sector and the industry, as recommended by the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland (ICS), would be published at the end of this month.
He said, “Our shared ambition is to transform the industry into the sustainable, profitable, diverse, and innovative sector Scotland needs, and we need to work together at pace to deliver on our ambitions. Collaboration can help to reduce both risk and costs for businesses on their net zero journey, and there will also be significant opportunities for growth.
“The successes delivered so far demonstrate the power of us working together. And when we get it right, everyone wins – businesses, people and the planet.”
Alan Wilson, MD of SELECT, who introduced the minister at the event at the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow, said, “We were pleased that the minister was able to join us as we reflected on the challenges the sector has faced and the constructive and innovative ways in which they have been overcome. We very much appreciate the clear understanding he has of the main issues that businesses are facing at the moment, and the ways in which we can cooperate and work collectively to address them.
“The Construction Accord will be another very important step forward in what the Minister has rightly called the Decisive Decade and, as he says, if we get it right, we will all win.”
The event was also addressed by SELECT president Alistair Grant who, with Alan Wilson, presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to Len Bunton.
Len, an internationally-recognised construction consultant, is best known for his crusade for better conditions across the industry, most lately with the Conflict Avoidance Process and Conflict Avoidance Pledge.