With heated reactions to yesterday’s rejection of Theresa May’s Brexit deal, it appears that the current atmosphere of upheaval and uncertainty is unlikely to change any time soon.
What does this mean for construction?
Sky News reported that when discussing his concerns in lieu of last night’s results, Chief Executive of Balfour Beatty, Leo Quinn asked “I would like to know when we might get back to a normal functioning government” – echoing the frustration within the construction industry.
He went on to explain, “The enemy of business is delay and procrastination, and the construction industry will face large-scale restructuring where it cannot carry the resources it will need over the next 25 years, and capability will have to be let go”, an indication of the serious damage the industry could face. Backed by reports that uncertainty has caused activity to fall to a three month low, it is clear that Brexit will continue to pose a significant threat to construction for the foreseeable future.
Combating Brexit uncertainty
With so many possible outcomes and delays to major projects expected, it is vital that companies stabilise where possible by minimising any disruption to business by improving their processes and operations before problems arise.
For example, with a significant proportion of the United Kingdom’s current construction workforce being born in the EU, plans to transition to a skills based immigration policy is expected to have a devastating effect on the industry’s access to skilled labour. In this case, it is essential that every available man hour is used efficiently to increase output. This can be achieved through the use of technology, which can enable contractors to save time by digitising processes in areas such as onboarding and training. Having this technology implemented, sooner rather than later, will help to minimise the problems caused by the demand for skilled workers outstripping supply.
The uncertainty around legislation is also placing pressure on companies to ensure they are compliant with Government policies, such as an employee’s Right to Work and GDPR. Not doing so can result in significant fines (up to £20,000 per person) and prison sentences, in the case of illegal workers, or up to €20 million fines for GDPR violations. To avoid penalties, it is therefore wise for companies to be sure that their systems and processes are fully compliant regardless of Brexit, to ensure that they are covered under any eventuality.
Until the outcome of Brexit is decided upon, construction companies can be proactive by preparing their companies for any possible deal and use technology to protect themselves for the future.
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