The Year Ahead: Five Key Challenges That Will Shape Construction in 2022

Blog-December 22, 2021

The outlook is positive for construction in 2022. Experts currently project that output will bounce back to pre-pandemic levels.¹ And with the government pledging £12 billion for infrastructure, as well as the £4.8 billion “levelling up” fund, demand for high-quality construction projects looks sure to continue growing.²

But there are still many challenges ahead of us – from finding suitable workers to ensuring our projects are truly sustainable. In this article, we explore five of the key challenges that will define the coming year:

1. The skills gap

As Brexit has reduced the UK’s talent pool and a high level of employee churn, the construction industry faces a serious crisis. According to recent reports, the sector will need 216,800 new workers by 2025 to meet current demand levels.³

In 2022, we will see new initiatives to bring young workers into the industry, including a continuation of the wage increases we’ve seen in 2021. But solving the problem will likely require more than this, and leaders should focus not just on financial rewards but the actual workplace culture they create onsite. 

A shortage of skilled workers is construction specialists’ number one concern for 2022.

2. Greater attention on the work environment

Throughout the pandemic, a new level of attention has been paid to the quality of employee experience. Employees are less willing to work under poor conditions and expect greater support from their employers. A recent report, for example, demanded an industry-wide ‘mental health dashboard’ to support workers in the construction industry.

In 2022, we will see efforts to address this problem continue. This will include a greater investment in employee wellbeing initiatives, as well better on site welfare units to provide much needed support. 

More than seven in 10 construction companies do not measure the mental wellbeing of their staff.

3. Reimagining the supply chain

The twin forces of Brexit and COVID-19 have produced price increases in the supply chain, as well as some very well publicised disruptions. Vital materials like timber and bricks have seen rapid price increases across 2021, and experts suggest these problems will continue well into the new year.

Ultimately, as supply chain issues have hindered growth for the industry, companies will have to rethink the way they source vital materials in 2022.

Nearly 8 in 10 construction businesses have absorbed higher input prices in 2021.

4. The innovation gap

Innovation is the key to delivering more effective and efficient projects. But many in the industry still lag behind in this regard, as we explored in our recent research. And this has led to a widening ‘innovation gap’ between companies that use cutting-edge technology – and those that don’t.

2022 will be a tipping point, where businesses that do embrace innovative technology gain an unassailable lead in quality.

In recent years, the number of construction businesses actively innovating has fallen by 11%.¹⁰

5. Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainability has become a major concern for the construction industry in recent years, and there is still a very long way to go in terms of ensuring projects have a positive impact on both communities and the environment. 

The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a clear blueprint for the changes that are necessary, and the issues it raises will define not just 2022 but the entire future. 

As a company that prides itself on providing mobile welfare units and welfare vans that make a positive impact, we believe it’s vital that we take a lead on issues like this and help our industry become more conscious – and more effective – when it comes to sustainability. 

So in the coming months, we will launch a long-form content series exploring each of these goals in detail.