Cross-sector collaboration is crucial for progress

Both the public & private sector need to work together if we are to grow our city's region construction industry

Posted by John Sutcliffe

John Sutcliffe is a Chartered Engineer and Chartered Surveyor who was appointed as Chair of the Liverpool & Sefton Chambers of Commerce in September 2012.

Tue 17th, Feb

The announcement that there could be 5,000 new jobs in the North West’s Construction industry came out a few weeks ago, the same week the Chamber hosted a Construction Breakfast where we heard from Liverpool City Council about some of the developments in the city both now and in the future. There is much to be positive about in the industry and Liverpool’s construction sector is in a far better position now than at any point since the 2007 recession.

After all, it’s important to remember the economic downturn of the recession hit the industry hard and resulted in many skilled and experienced professional and tradespeople leaving to find work elsewhere.

But things are looking up, especially for the North West & business people like myself and the variety of construction projects that are currently underway is telling of the city’s growing economy including an increased contribution from the private sector. I’m encouraged to learn that the public sector continue to be committed to driving large investment projects. As well as the new Royal Hospital and Alder Hey, a further £118m will be invested in The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre and I’m delighted Chamber member Laing O’Rourke has won its contract.

However, it’s important that we can’t get ahead of ourselves. Take a look at the results of our recent Quarterly Economic Survey, for example. Yes, it’s promising that investment from the public sector fosters clear aspirations but confidence levels for businesses could be better. Fees for construction consultancy are still low as the economy is recovering and there is the issue of material shortages, particular bricks and steel.

Similarly, there are also broader issues that need to be addressed. Following the Chamber event, it got me thinking about the impact of the Atlantic Gateway and how it has the potential to become a major brand to influence private sector investment whilst becoming a crucial element to the Northern Powerhouse. I hope it will represent an opportunity for cross sector collaboration: private sector construction businesses working hand in hand with government to inform policy and deliver sustainable projects to stimulate economic growth and further funding opportunities.

If you're a supplier to the infrastructure sector currently looking for opportunities, Business in the Community are running an "Access the Buyer" event, next Tuesday at Merseytravel.

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