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UK Construction Week 2019 day two: what we learned



Day two dawns at UK Construction Week and there was a huge buzz around the keynote speaker of the day – construction minister Nadhim Zahawi. Much of the discussion yesterday centred around the importance of regulation when it comes to tackling issues such as sustainability and changes to process following the Grenfell disaster, so Zahawi naturally commanded a crowd.

Top of the government’s current agenda is, of course, the housing crisis – something that was discussed in great detail by a panel led by the BBC’s Steph McGovern in “The Housing Crisis will never be solved, unless…”

Pressures from ministers to deliver 300,000 new homes a year is undoubtedly an optimistic target, which is hampered by constraints such as land provision, planning, quality design, energy efficiency expectations, dropping sales prices, skills and workforce shortage and Brexit. It was therefore intriguing to hear from experts on what they feel are the most valuable solutions to the crisis as we head into the 2020s.

Sustainability

Sustainbility: the word on everyone’s lips – including those of George Clarke, who has been a brilliant host of the event so far. He has partaken in many a selfie and is still smiling!

In his session on “Heat pumps, sustainability and MMC” the celebrated architect highlighted how heat pumps and modern methods of construction will be two critically important methods by which the UK can reach – and exceed – its CO2 reduction targets. Alongside a spokesperson from Mitsubishi Electric, he explored the responsibilities of the UK housing supply chain when it comes to addressing the climate change disaster.

What was clear is that robustly considering the environment is more important in construction now than ever, and it’s up to the industry to stand up, be counted and do better every day.

Mental health and wellbeing

This year, there is a real focus on mental health issues within the sector. It’s an incredibly important issue; recent statistics from the ONS show that male construction workers are three times more likely to commit suicide than the average male. The reasons for this are multifaceted but long working hours and concerns around the current instability of the sector and future job security are all said to contribute.

A number of talks are exploring the problem, for example “Enhancing workplace environments for mental wellbeing and neurodiversity” which looks at how construction organisations can recognise those with “neurodiversity” – that’s to say a condition such as autism or ADHD – how it’s often linked to poor mental health and how to make practical changes to accommodate.

The event is also being supported by Every Mind Matters, an NHS and PHE-backed campaign that champions mental wellbeing in the workplace. It’s such an important initiative so it was great to see a busy stand and people getting on board with the message.

Key takeaways

It’s been another day of incredibly insightful sessions (not to mention some of the most creative and engaging merchandise we’ve ever seen on stand. Top marks to Storage on Site and their bright yellow “SOS” tote bags and Quinn BP’s adventures in green screen!)

TL;DR – here are the three top takeaways from day two!

·         To address climate change, the industry must come together and be brave

·         Construction must no longer be a “tough man’s industry” – mental health and wellbeing should be taken as seriously as any other physical ailment

·         The industry cannot alone solve the UK housing crisis – it needs support from a wide range of stakeholders to truly improve lives

Tagged with: B2B PR agency Manchester , Built Environment, Public Relations

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