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Riding out the Pandemic; UK’s Construction Industry

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The construction industry has always been central to the growth and stability of a country’s economy. The last few years saw the UK undergo increased digitization in their economy. The construction industry has always been at the heart of growth and creating jobs. Despite the challenges faced due to the Corona Virus outbreak, construction rode through 2020 and 2021 with relevant safety, without any major crashes.

However, this doesn’t mean 2020 was smooth sailing; work came to a halt on construction sites during the strict lockdown periods of April and May. However, the pace picked up quickly when the economy reopened, and the industry came up with innovative solutions to ensure work didn’t stop.

Interestingly, the second half of 2020 saw a substantial increase in demand for renovations, refurbishments, and extensions. Since Covid restrictions forced people indoors for more extended periods, the trends in the construction industry shifted towards redoing or enhancing existing structures. As a result, the construction industry’s trajectory remained relatively strong throughout the second of 2020 and in 2021 as other sectors started to recover from the effects of long-term lockdowns.

The most significant boost to the construction industry came with announcing the “High Speed Two” motorway enhancements. Despite windfarm projects at the forefront of things, private investments were the actual buoy for the sector. It is a shift from previous years when a significant source of investment was public infrastructure, with very little being contributed by private investors.

UK construction reports biggest fall in new work since 2009 | Construction  industry | The Guardian

Due to the pandemic, specific segments of the market saw a decline. Large commercial projects, schools, entertainment centers, universities and colleges slowed down dramatically in 2020 pre-pandemic demands recovered substantially in 2021. However, projects like the “Nightingale hospitals” that were specially constructed to deal with the pandemic contributed towards increased demand for health-related infrastructures during this time. As the world evolves to tackle the onslaught of corona variants, space requirements and needs have also changed. There was an increase in demand for more extensive warehouses by private industries.

During the early days of the pandemic, construction-related employment declined by 3% instead of 11% in 2019. However, despite things halting during the lockdowns, registered construction firms increased. Even the total number of employees in construction-related sectors saw a marginal increase. There were improvements in some areas, and this is a promising direction for the future of this sector. This particular niche has shown remarkable resilience to the difficulties created by the coronavirus pandemic, especially with trends in productivity declining in other industries.

For the last two decades, the UK’s construction industry has remained relatively stalled. However, things had started to pick up in the previous years with an increasingly educated workforce at the forefront of the sector. In addition, advancements in technology and increased investment interest in intangible assets is good news for the construction industry. However, despite an overall positive outlook in these challenging times, the industry is faced with its own unique set of issues; an ageing workforce with pays that remain below the national average and the rising costs of construction materials.

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