Our Group Chief Operations Officer, Andrew Morley discusses which areas we need to invest in to ensure success as the industry navigates the challenges and consequences of Brexit and the early stages of the Technological Revolution we currently find ourselves in.
In the most recent Avonside staff column, written by Avonside Group’s Managing Director, Tony Burke, he commented upon the knock-on effects of Brexit on the sub-contract community, citing the uncertainty and lack of transparency regarding both materials supply and pricing and the demands of long-term contractual commitment.
Our erstwhile representatives at Westminster have made no discernible progress since his last column.
The aforementioned scenario is most definitely not a platform for a sustainable business model, and I would reiterate Tony’s plea to all parts of the supply chain to think longer term in order to preserve the health of the end-to-end supply chain, because if any link becomes overtly damaged, then the whole supply chain suffers.
Aside from engaging in dialogue with our partners in both manufacturing and client base, as responsible businesses we must assess what we can do directly to maintain the success of our individual businesses moving forward and to face both the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
In my view, we have to both attract the best calibre of employee available to us, and thereafter we must invest in and develop them to their maximum performance.
Let me firstly point out that this is not a column addressing recruitment and remuneration — that is a subject in itself.
By a commitment to investing in our people to develop them, it is a recognition that the best businesses prosper as a result of a long-term strategy to ensure that members of staff are better trained, have a clearer direction and are more highly motivated than their competitors. In this way, they can drive a business forward.
Training and development cost time and resources — it’s my view that the CITB training levy is a welcomed initiative but somewhat narrow in its focus intended to release funds for the purpose of training and development, that may benefit by broadening its remit to all staff.
Notwithstanding that perspective, we each have a responsibility to improve our people’s ability to respond to the challenges of a dynamic and challenging sector, to which we must add the pace of technological change that is reshaping business practices and capabilities at an ever-increasing pace.
Within every business, there needs to be a clear view by each department as to how it wants to operate, the technology that can support this, and how to identify the ‘gap’ in the knowledge of our people to take us there.
The ‘gap’ is the fundamental challenge for us all, and whilst the ongoing need to recruit and develop the technical skills our industry requires through increased apprenticeships is a subject that has been covered many times in this Avonside staff column — and that all the Senior Management team at Avonside feel passionate about — this is only a part of the equation.
We also have to look at all those areas of staff and management to ensure that we have the best people, and we develop those people and retain them, so we have a ‘win-win’ situation.
We are in the early stages of the Technological Revolution and are only just beginning to realise the implications of artificial intelligence, microengineering and biometrics, which will impact every area of our lives and business.
Taking advantage of these developments usually happens for early adopters, and in order to do so, we must have a strategy to build these opportunities into our business models and ensure our teams are thoroughly prepared to deliver.
These gains will allow us to think more creatively about the supply chain issues we face, allow us to provide better value-added services to our client base — better health and safety, improved logistics and superior quality of delivery.
Many areas of the supply chain are already thinking about these issues and striving for greater efficiency, areas such as modular and off-site building will present challenges to the traditional methods of construction, and we each need to be able to respond or, even better, lead in these critical areas.
In this fomenting environment where change is taking place all around us and at ever-increasing speed, focussed and related development of our people is the only sustainable protection we have against being left behind.
Andrew originally wrote this column for the May edition (issue 82) of Roofing Today magazine (page 60).