Tuesday, 18 May 2010

NFDC highlights importance of apprenticeships

Apprentices are the key to improving construction's business and environmental sustainability. ConstructionSkills, as the largest apprentice trainer in the UK, is making sure that its apprentice training schemes leave the participants aware and excited about the low carbon future of construction and ready to make that vital contribution to the sustainability of the industry.

The NFDC recently organised a webinar hosted by Construction News, where representatives from major construction firms BAM Nuttall, Morgan Ashurst and Willmott Dixon discussed how good apprentices were for business - in the short term and long term.

Mark Gelder, of Wilmott Dixon, knows apprentices are vital in making sure his business is ready for future challenges. Throughout the webinar he emphasised that young people often have a different mindset to the older generation and are more environmentally friendly, and so apprentices are vital to help challenge the perceptions of the existing workforce. He stated that by focusing on the environment, apprentices will help the firm to win business and evolve in a sustainable manner as a business.

It is encouraging that these large contractors continue to recognise and value the contribution that apprentices make to their future success, despite the huge challenges that the downturn has presented. However, recent research undertaken by ConstructionSkills shows that nearly a third (31%) of contractors will not take on an apprentice at the moment as a result of the recession.

Apprentices are the future of our industry and it is important that figures such as this are a 'blip' and not a trend, to avoid losing talented people from the industry forever. With large contractors recognising the importance of apprenticeships and training, it is vital they use their influence on their supply chains to ensure that new talent is encouraged into the industry.

Carl Heslop, Special Works Manager and apprentice employer at national construction firm Morgan Ashurst, also gave some insight into the importance of stimulating apprenticeship activity in the supply chain. He said that if companies want to work with Morgan Ashurst they need to share the same values, the same skills and be a sustainable resource. Carl believes that the only way their supply chain can achieve the level of service required and be as sustainable as Morgan Ashurst is to also take on apprentices. It is part of the culture at the firm and something Morgan Ashurst insists on as a pre-requisite for their supply chain.

For companies to remain sustainable and competitive, high standards of apprenticeships need to be delivered. They are still the preferred route into construction for many young entrants and we need to recognise this and find ways to encourage employers to take apprentices on for young people to enter the industry.

For the full article, please click here.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Chile seeks help from UK demolition contractors

Following the major earthquake of 27 February, the British Embassy in Santiago has been approached by the Chilean Ministry of the Interior to ask for help identifying UK demolition companies with specialised expertise in bringing down unsafe buildings.

There are seven buildings in the cities of Concepcion, Talca and elsewhere in the most affected region, that are in serious danger of collapse. Some can be brought down in a controlled explosion, others might need to be taken apart bit by bit.

Due to a lack of the relevant expertise in Chile, the Chilean Government are looking to UK demolition contractors to aid with the works.

There is due to be a truncated official bidding process on a commercial basis, though the Government of Chile is expected to favour anyone prepared to do the job at a discount so this opportunity is set to be of particular interest to companies who are looking at broader opportunities in the Chilean market.

The Government of Chile are looking for companies to respond quickly and to demonstrate international experience of similar work before making their decision. Ahead of the bidding process, the English-speaking Chief of Staff to the Minister is expected to talk with representatives of major UK companies who might be interested in bidding for the works.

Friday, 19 February 2010

NFDC joins campaign to reduce waste

The National Federation of Demolition Contractors has joined a growing number of leading companies across the construction supply chain have committed to collectively halve the amount of construction waste sent to landfill by 2012.

Just a few weeks after the launch of The Construction Commitments: Halving Waste to Landfill, over 30 organisations have signed up to WRAP’s (Waste & Resources Action Programme) voluntary agreement - including leading clients and contractors.

You can view the NFDC certificate here or read more about the campaign here.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Green Targets Could Mean Demolition Boom

Huge expanses of British town and city centres built in the Sixties and Seventies may have to be torn down to meet carbon emission standards for buildings.

In an interview with The Times, the Government’s new chief construction adviser said that there may be no choice but to demolish buildings put up in those decades because it is impossible to refurbish them to a sufficiently high standard.

Paul Morrell, who took up his new post at the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills at the end of November last year, said: “In the Sixties, everything was built cheaper, faster and nastier. If you are going to try to fix buildings, then really you won’t have too many problems with anything built earlier than the Fifties or after the Eighties.

To read the full story in The Times, please click here.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Talk of potential boom for UK demolition contractors in this month’s Demolition News

The UK Government’s new chief construction adviser has said that the Government may be forced to demolish a large number of British buildings erected in the 1960s and 1970s if they are to meet ambitious Carbon Emissions reduction targets.

Speaking in The Times, Paul Morrell, who took up his new post at the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills at the end of November last year, said: “In the Sixties, everything was built cheaper, faster and nastier. If you are going to try to fix buildings, then really you won’t have too many problems with anything built earlier than the Fifties or after the Eighties. Although you can do some things to buildings from the Sixties and Seventies, like replacing the roofs, there are probably some places that need to come down entirely.”

If Morrell’s predictions come true, it will be a fitting reward for an industry that has spearheaded the green agenda with its world-beating levels of materials recycling.

Demolition News, 25th January 2010

Monday, 14 December 2009

Public spending limits sharp downturn in construction according to Construction Products Association

The latest ONS figures for construction output highlight the critical importance of public spending to the industry. Although total construction output rose 2% during the third quarter of 2009 compared to the previous quarter, this was primarily due to growth in public spending offsetting the continuing sharp falls in private sector construction. Taking the first nine months of 2009 as a whole, construction output is 12% lower than the same period in 2008.

Commenting on the figures, Noble Francis, Economics Director of the Construction Products Association said "These latest output figures illustrate that given the dramatic fall in private sector work, it is more important than ever that government maintains its capital investment programme in housing provision, transport, education and health facilities to provide better infrastructure and ensure a skilled workforce for economic recovery.

In addition, the recent independent study by LEK Consulting highlights the benefits of investment in construction to the UK economy, with every £1 speant on constrution generating £2.84 in economic activity. We hope that the Chancellor recognises this and highlights the importance of capital investment in constructyion in next week's Pre Budget Report".

The main growth in public capital spending was:
  • Public housing where output was 14% higher in Q3 than in the previous quarter
  • Work on schools, hospitals and the Olympics, which was 7% higher than in Q2 and 31% higher than in Q3 of 2008
  • Work on the railway network which was 14% higher than a year ago, whilst construction output on roads was 19% higher.

In contrast, private sector construction activity continued to fall sharply:

  • Output on industrial projects fell 35% compared with the third quarter of last year
  • Commercial activity (offices and retail) fell 29% over the same period
  • Output on private housing was still 12% lower than the previous quarter, although there are now signs of a slow recovery in this sector.

Reflecting on the prospects going forward, Francis said;

"With continued falls in the new orders figures across the private sector any recovery in the construction industry over the next 12 months depends critically on the government sustaining its current spending plans, and this will be a key part of the discussions we have with all the political parties in the run up to next year's Election."

For more informaton on the Construction Products Association, please click here.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

End of recession won't end hard times

In the past few weeks, the dark veil of recession has shown signs of lifting. France, Germany and,more recently, China have seen their economies enjoy a sufficiently sustained period of growth, albeit negligible, that has lasted long enough for economists to declare them officially “out of recession”.

Closer to home, mortgage lending is on the rise again at long last and even house builders, among
the worst hit by first blows of the credit crunch onslaught, are reporting a slight upturn.

Together with some more positive news about consumer spending, these statistics have brought a slight flush to the cheeks of the lifeless corpse that is the world economy.

But we’re not out of the woods yet. In fact, I am concerned that even when we do crawl out of the recessionary chasm that swallowed us some 12 months ago, the struggle is far from over for the demolition industry.

The first hurdle the industry is likely to encounter is a hangover of thinner margins. Main
contractors and developers have “enjoyed” a period of intense competition among demolition
contractors which has led to some near-suicidal pricing practices. Having grown familiar with that level of cost, these developers and contractors are not suddenly going to accept a post-recession price hike. Indeed, I would personally be amazed if the “value engineering” built into virtually every contract these days does not continue long after we’ve shaken the recessionary monkey off our collective backs.

The second and, perhaps, bigger challenge is in planning. With the notable exception of certain
Government-funded departments, new build and its associated planning has all but dried up in
recent months. Even when the supposedly wise heads in Government sound the “alert over” sirens and the world returns to some semblance of normality, demolition contractors will find their workload wedged behind a logjam of planning applications held over from the dark days.

Both of these problems are beyond our control and, as usual, we will just have to make the best of a bad job. We’ll have to do the same with equipment fleet renewals, expansions and maintenance programmes that have been undermined by the current recession.

Governments around the world have climbed aboard the stimulus package bandwagon, injecting
trillions of tax dollars into comatose economies; but that has failed to change the attitude of most
banks and finance houses that would still rather see those dollars on their own bottom lines than on ours. As a result, even those demolition companies that have managed to maintain a good
workload through the recession have found themselves blocked at every turn when they set out to buy new or replacement equipment.

And can we all, hand on heart, say that we’ve invested as much on machine maintenance during the recession as we might have during a boom period?

To read more articles from Demolition News, click here