Take away the political debate and the fallout from last month’s vote will have a huge impact on the future of the finishes and interiors sector. There’s a lot of trust being placed in the winning team.

While all the forecasters we now chose to believe say that construction output will continue to grow over the medium term, the skills shortage won’t go away, and it is probably the biggest challenge facing the whole industry.

The introduction of Trailblazers as the new standard for all apprenticeship qualifications, the new Apprenticeship Levy and a resulting  restructure to CITB funding mean taking on an apprentice seems more complex than before. Is the sector just rearranging the deck chairs, or is it a real opportunity?

With resources likely to continue to be in short supply this will add pressure to costs, and inevitably the viability of some contracts. But even with the collapse in steel prices, specialist contractors in our sector are bracing themselves for  significant cost increases on metal components used in ceilings, drylining, partitioning and SFS.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that price rises for similar components are higher in the UK than in other European countries. A huge part of the  conversation during the last few months has been around regulations and  creating a common market, so are we seeing early signs of regional price  differentials growing?

Undoubtedly, the market in parts of the country is hot. More and more we’ve heard about relationship building in the supply chain to allow contractors and their subcontractors to work in  confidence and avoid conflict.

Whether it is materials or skilled labour, the ultimate ingredient of success is an integrated supply chain working to a common goal with complete trust. Without trust, have the last few months of turmoil really been worth it all?


Adrian JG Marsh