Brexit Eighteen Months On: Exploring the impact on the South West property and construction sectors

Yesterday we attended the CIBSE and Women in Property South West event that revisited some early post-Brexit predictions, and considered the opportunities and challenges within the property and construction industry as we move towards the end of the Brexit transitional period (December 2020).

There were a number of key considerations and issues identified by the panel including:

  • The skills gap within the industry remains a key issue – and although this was an issue before Brexit, it has been exacerbated by the loss of migrant workers from Europe and an increase in the number of ambitious, talented people leaving the UK. 
  • It was agreed there remains economic uncertainty which is causing ongoing concern within the industry.  However, the South West as a region appears to still be in a strong position, with companies looking to invest and demand still outweighing supply.
  • Project viability is still being tested causing project delays – particularly because raw materials, costs and inflation has gone up.
  • There was a consensus that a lack of a strong, joined-up industry voice engaging with UK Government means that concerns within the sector are not being proactively addressed.

However, the panel also highlighted opportunities for the UK to push the boundaries and secure its position as a key player in the global arena, with ideas including:

  • Closing the skills gap through innovation, design and technology – robotics and 3D printing were cited as key areas of development for the UK.
  • Maximising the UK’s low barriers of entry, which will attract investment and trading partners.
  • The need for smart cities that work for future generations - and for the industry to become more efficient without sacrificing quality.

The general consensus appears to be that a lot of issues the industry had before Brexit have been exacerbated and although the panel were cautiously optimistic, there was concern that a lack of confidence and uncertainty could chip away at the construction industry over the next few years if it is complacent.