Aug 27 2015

AEC Industry Update

UK Construction

As the summer break comes to an end, workers in the AEC industry are returning to mixed news. The market is buoyant, with strong figures for construction output in particular. However, questions have been raised over the Government’s commitment to Construction 2025 and much of the industry continues to struggle with BIM.


The Market 

This year has seen a 9.5% growth in construction output in the UK. Growth is expected to be less next year but is still forecast to be over twice the rate of inflation until 2019 with total growth of 19%. This amounts to an extra £27bn in spending. Infrastructure output is the major driver for this with 10% growth expected each year on the back of the UK Government’s National Infrastructure Plan. Growth in the private housing sector is also contributing.

The only potential clouds on the horizon are the ongoing skills shortage across the AEC industry which is driving up costs and reducing margins, and a significant reduction in public housing investment, hurting builders in this area.


Government and Governance 

The Construction Industry Council (CIC) has undergone a major shakeup with the reduction of council members from 30 to 12 and the axing of the Construction Adviser role.  This has left many wondering about the Government’s commitment to meeting their Construction 2025 strategy.  The ambitious targets set out by this strategy required innovation, leadership and collaboration across the industry to achieve and it is doubtful whether a reduced CIC that is dominated by contractors to the exclusion of clients and consultants can support this.  It appears likely that targets will be reduced and the strategy revised although what form this takes remains to be seen.

A more positive development, at least for house builders, is the plan to automatically give permission in principle to build on brownfield sites as well as recent news that there could be considerably more brownfield land available than previous government figures have suggested.  Obviously there will need to be some checks on brownfield developments and the fine detail of the policy is yet to be announced.



With the UK BIM Mandate now only 8 months away, the recent CONJECT BIM readiness survey, as well as ones conducted by the Construction Industry Training Board and National Federation of Builders all suggest that large sections of the industry are far from being ready for BIM Level 2.  This is particularly true of SME’s and sub-contractors who often report that they see the burdens, not the benefits of BIM.

However, it is not just the supply chain which is struggling. Across the industry surveys show that contractors and clients in the AEC sector feel they need better solutions for managing BIM data and workflows.  Additional training, as well as articulation of the time, cost and quality benefits Level 2 BIM can have across the supply chain are clearly needed.


Facing Challenges 

A buoyant market where companies are not struggling for work presents an ideal environment for tackling some of the challenges facing construction.  There is no quick fix for the skills crisis but it has forcefully raised the issue of education and training and now is the time for industry to invest in the apprentices and new graduates who will provide the skills of the future.

BIM is here to stay with use increasingly spreading beyond mandated public sector projects.  Again, now is the time to invest in the training and technology to leverage the benefits of BIM, rather than struggling to catch up in a potentially tighter market in the future.


Other blogs you may be interested in: 

Implementing BIM – some challenges and solutions

Not all CDEs are created equal

About the author

Michelle Mason

Michelle Mason leads the UK and MEAP Marketing team, with far too many years in B2B marketing to mention. A CONJECT newbie, Michelle is eagerly climbing a steep learning curve.

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