Thursday 6 May 2010 could well prove a key date in the history of the UK architecture, engineering and construction, AEC, industry. It is, of course, the day the country goes to the polls to elect a new government and, almost irrespective of which party you talk about, the expectation is that the new administration will impose some significant public spending cuts, with a corresponding knock-on effect on the construction sector.
I listened to a lot of experts talking about the possible post-election industry landscape last week. For example, having been invited by marketing chief Graham Newman, I thought the Glenigan breakfast briefing was a sometimes very sobering view of just what might happen, though the only certainty was that there is no certainty. Big question marks exist about various areas of construction activity. The proposed third runway at Heathrow Airport, Building Schools for the Future, social housing, health projects, CrossRail, nuclear expansion, the Olympics catalyst for hotel and leisure projects – all of these (and more) cropped up in a debate that wasn’t exactly optimistic about industry prospects. We are still talking about low, and potentially dwindling, margins, it seems.
To me, this probably makes marketing and personal relationships even more important then ever. In economically-straitened circumstances, we are likely to find competition for jobs (at a personal level) and projects (at a company level) even fiercer, and I think individuals and organisations should be looking at how they create, maintain and develop their key relationships (areas where tCn can help, I hope). Building magazine has come out in support of the Labour party, but they appear in a minority compared to many of the newspapers with a wider remit – but given the forecasts of hung Parliaments, perhaps we may yet have another date to decide the industry’s destiny.