I’m pleased to be launching our CECA Wales Annual Review for 2018-19.
From my perspective as Director of CECA Wales, it’s easy to look back over the last 12 months and reflect on another year of delay and disappointment. Infrastructure projects stalling or, in some cases, being cancelled completely. This needs to change if Wales is to benefit from the opportunities that new and improved infrastructure brings. But governments need to better value the sector too!
That said, for me, the last 12 months has been about driving forward our strategic priorities : People, Procurement, Partnerships, and, of course, Promoting our industry. Underpinning all of this is the need to improve our productivity and profitability. As we move towards the 4th industrial revolution we need to embrace the opportunities of increased automation, digital technologies and newer ways of delivering construction.
The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act gives us, in Wales, an unique opportunity to reshape the conversations about our future infrastructure. Our report “Transporting Our Future Generations”, launched at the Senedd with the Future Generations Commissioner, Sophie Howe, and Jack Sargeant AM, demonstrates the commitment that CECA Wales is making to the Act and how we will support the sector in meeting the challenges ahead.
We have made progress as this report confirms and that progress will continue throughout 2019 and beyond.
Ed Evans, Director, CECA Wales
But, as our previous Chairman, Gwyn Pardoe, said at our recent Annual Dinner reflecting on the last 12 months feels a bit like Groundhog Day for the civil engineering sector!
The demise of Carillion and the pressures on contractors, whilst dreadful news for those losing their jobs, also sent shockwaves across the industry and brought into question the way we do business. It’s been particularly depressing in Wales given the loss of one of our larger indigenous contractors, Dawnus. This has shone the spotlight on the low margins that many businesses are working to, the high levels of risk that are being dumped on supply chains and the difficulties in accessing finance. Unfortunately, Brexit and ongoing austerity measures continue to depress construction activity and delays or cancellations to major projects dents confidence.
However, we need to look for the positives. This remains a great industry to be part of with great career opportunities. People remain the lifeblood of our sector and I’m pleased that we’re developing new qualifications and career pathways with our partners to suit a range of abilities which will open up the sector to a greater diversity of people. We’ve also established our CECA Wales Foundations Group to give our younger members a greater say and our annual Leadership Challenge for our CECA Wales Awards nominees goes from strength to strength as does our partnership with the Armed Services.
But, there’s no doubt that we need to improve our productivity as a sector and, with the 4th Industrial Revolution upon us and increased automation and the use of digital technologies promising to transform the way we do things, we need to get ahead of the game. The way we do business just isn’t sustainable which is why we’re exploring new ways of working such as “Project 13” which proposes a far more collaborative approach. And, of course, we continue to battle on to improve the way clients procure work which far too often runs counter to increasing productivity and social value.
We hear time and time again of the importance of the foundation economy to Wales. The construction sector is a key part of this, employing over 130,000 across our nation and representing about 7% of Wales’ GVA. We recruit, train and upskill thousands of people every year but we need to be better valued by government and wider society as a fundamental contributor to Wales’ economic prosperity.
So, let’s not forget that this is an exciting industry to be part of with endless opportunities. There’s lots to be positive about!
Gwyn Pardoe, Previous Chairman CECA Wales 2017-2019
For your information this report reflects on the last 12 months and how things have been for civil engineering contractors in Wales. It highlights how CECA Wales has sought to address the priorities of the sector over the last 12 months, how it has furthered the interests of civil engineering contracting businesses and how it has contributed to the greater wellbeing of Wales through better infrastructure.
Importantly this report also offers a glimpse of what the next 12 months could hold for the industry and our members.
This Annual Review can be accessed via