Despite wobbles in the Eurozone and the looming general election, the recovery continues to take place. Yet there are still concerns about the future and sprinkled throughout the latest issue of SpecFinish are references to resources and payment.

The annual Construction Skills Network report suggests that the building finishes and interior fit-out sector needs to attract more than 5,000 new recruits each year until 2019 to ensure that contracts in the pipeline are adequately resourced and delivered.

There are high hopes for the new-look CITB management and with AIS FPDC unveiling new training initiatives businesses in our sector have increasing access to a greater support network.

And last month the National Specialist Contractors Council (NSCC), the voice of specialist contractors’ in the supply chain, and the UK Contractors Group (UKCG), the body that represents major contractors, announced that they were considering a merger.

Shock and horror but if you take a step back and consider the idea there are some obvious merits in the two coming together. Having main contractors and the supply chain sitting around the same table could provide much needed focus around key issues such as safety, skills and training.

There may even be some shared concerns about payment. Research from the SEC Group has shown that 38 per cent of public sector clients make late payments to tier 1 contractors and they also make use of £1 billion of cash retentions to supplement their working capital.

Perhaps this is a further step in the right direction for the construction industry, which accounts for seven per cent of GDP, to be less fragmented. To bring NSCC and UKCG together will mean it can speak with a powerful voice from the sector that has to deliver on some ambitious plans for new housing and infrastructure.

How they will tackle historical areas of conflict, such as payment and cash retentions, only time will tell. But what is certain should the merger become reality there will be a united group covering the construction supply chain who share many values and will ensure that government understands the strategic importance of the whole industry as a national asset.

Adrian JG Marsh
SpecFinish editor