Like many others involved in the construction industry, I have both welcomed and championed this recent news of recovery. Without doubt however, this recovery, still in its infancy stage, has been tough, turbulent and demanding of those individuals stepping up to the mark to lead it.
Amidst all this focus and media scrutiny however, one pivotal area of discussion has been largely overlooked. All mainstream analysis and discussion to date has been based purely on empirical and statistical groundings which beds itself into a much broader overview of the topic. This statistical examination of the recovery appears to ignore how the grass-roots of this industry has shaped these changes in fortune by adapting to our new circumstances.
Having worked in construction from a very young age, we’ll say 16, to keep everyone happy, I have seen the build-up to the boom, the boom itself and its subsequent collapse. Throughout this time attitudes both within the industry and towards the industry have altered dramatically. Before the collapse there was an unhealthy level of confidence creeping into certain aspects of the grass-roots.
The industry was essentially stacking up like a house of cards with more and more cards being added to the structure on a base that wasn’t as strong as we claimed it to be. In many cases the cards being added at the top were pulled directly from that base. A collapse was inevitable though admittedly, still tough to digest.
The mourning process and a notable change in attitudes
Like any good party, the next morning usually reminds one of their excessive indulgence from the night before. As an old science teacher repeatedly told us every Wednesday for 2 years – “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. Our industry had quite a reaction. The first emotion to emanate from the industry’s collapse was one of self-pity and mourning. The industry had neglected to address the fact that it had infected its own immune system to a large extent.
This erroneous mind-set continued to dominate the sector for more years than would be advisable. In fact, what had happened was that the system had been sanitised and self-regulated by the crash – in effect, the crash served as the industry’s sluice valve. Admittedly, the sanitisation has been abrupt and severe. The wounds needed to be licked and a return to the field had to be considered. At the end of all this turmoil, a new and refreshed industry is emerging.
A new frontier
What’s different this time around I often hear people ask? In my opinion – there has been a seismic shift in attitudes. The grass-roots has gone back to the drawing board and grounded themselves for the recovery ahead. People in the industry now understand their true worth and the benefits of real and structured career progression – as opposed to the sudden inflations in fees and titles of the past. There is no quick route to the top. The house of cards has to be constructed in adherence to construction industry regulations. All of this feeds in to a healthier industry.
The last 18 months in particular have been positive, yes construction activity is up, but what is most positive is that mind-sets have now developed into a more controlled and grounded state. Psychologically, and subsequently professionally, the grass-roots are in a better, more sustainable and economically viable place. This is paramount to successful growth.