The construction industry is very important to the UK’s – and indeed to the world’s – economy. In the UK, it accounts for more than 10% of the country’s gross domestic product and employs an estimated 2.5 million people. In the last three years, an extra £33 billion has been made available to this sector to increase public services. Included in this figure are major investments in transport, health and housing. As the industry is investment-driven, it is subject to the strictures of economic upturns and downturns; during the recessions of the mid 1980’s and the early 1990’s, there were significant downturns. However, in the late 1990’s, there was a marked swing in the opposite direction.
Our construction industry, by very nature of its geographical location, is not subject to the full influences of cross-border competition that are in evidence in mainland Europe. However, construction industries worldwide have been affected by the current economic climate and the increasing rise in fuel prices. For the earlier part of 2008, the German construction industry showed a marked upturn, but this slowed and tailed off later in the year, due to the increase in oil prices and the slowing economic pace of many industrialized countries. In addition to economic factors, there is a turn in the tide of ecological factors. In America, the number of people citing Global Warming as the most important environmental issue rose from 11% in 2003 to 35% in 2006. The construction industry faces new challenges in replacing and renovating buildings with minimal environmental impact. At the same time, the cost of these precautions has to be measured against potential profits.
However, despite the factors that seem to be conspiring against it, the construction industry moves at a very fast pace and is an ever-changing entity. Whilst legislation is forever altering, new techniques, technology and methods are developing to keep up. With the development of new practices, new jobs in construction are perpetually being created. In the UK, the Home Office has released figures stating that the three construction jobs that are most lacking in applicants are those for transportation and highways engineering, ground engineering and contaminated land specialists. With major infrastructures and building developments taking place in the South East of the UK, such as the 2012 Olympics and the Thames Gateway regeneration, construction recruitment in this area is set to soar. Britain’s Olympic Games will have 30 venues and a budget of £2.3 billion. It also has a non-negotiable, absolute completion date. As that date draws nearer, the construction industry will find itself heavily in demand as pressure and expectation rise. 2012 promises to be an important year for this industry and many are looking upon it as a chance to showcase its talents.
Of course, construction takes place across the globe and this gives workers a chance to travel as well as work. Construction jobs require large teams of people all working to a common goal and, while the lifestyle can be quite temporary, many get used to it and find it a liberating existence. Some projects are short-term, whilst others can last for years – such as the construction of an oil refinery.