It started as a debate about why I want to improve the image and value of marketing in the construction industry.
It quickly became a much deeper discussion about why I feel construction is misunderstood, and the industry as a whole is undervalued, even disliked, by society at large.
Why does it make me sad and angry that this essential sector gets such a bad rap?
The tarnished image of Construction
Construction seems to only be in the news for the wrong reasons; protests against development, spectacular cost overruns, accidents and deaths, malpractice and bankruptcies.
All of the above happens, and things don’t always go to plan, but in a sector that generates well over 10% of GDP, there will always be the negatives for the media to latch onto.
What I love about construction is how it is, probably unintentionally, a powerful force for good and for empowerment.
What frustrates me is the way that we, as today's custodians of the industry, don’t respect it enough, don’t recognise and communicate its value, to drive even bigger change and positive outcomes for people and society at large.
We’re all touched by Construction
Almost everything we do, touch, eat, drink and experience is enabled by construction.
The food we eat is processed in factories, delivered by road, retailed in shops and marketplaces. We educate ourselves and our children in schools, colleges and universities. We get fixed in medical centres and hospitals. We enjoy ourselves in cinemas, theatres and sports stadia.
We commute by road, rail, air and sea. We’re powered by energy produced, harvested and distributed in power plants, wind farms, pylons and trenches.
Construction is everywhere, enabling wealth creation, education, welfare, commerce, technology. Life itself.
These are the stories that don’t get told.
Inspiring and empowering society
The outputs of construction are awe-inspiring – the Pyramids, the Great Wall of China, the Empire State Building, the London Eye. Marvels of architecture, engineering and design inspiring future generations and reminding us of the successes and failures of the past.
The process of construction is less well-received. The noise, the disruption, the cost, the dust, the environmental impact.
But isn’t the end worthy of the means in almost every case – better schools, better roads, more homes, better transport, improved connectivity and communication?
Changing The Conversation
The negative image of construction is holding the industry back. If construction is not valued highly enough by the “end-user” the how can it’s true value be reflected in the price paid?
If everything is about “the lowest price”, then how can businesses reinvest in better, smarter technology; greener, more sustainable solutions; cleaner, more efficient methods and safer ways of working?
Recovering the true value of construction right across the supply chain can only lead to a renaissance in innovation, leading to the next generation of awe-inspiring buildings and infrastructure projects.
So how do we do this, change the image of construction, to attract the investment, the brightest talent, the ideas and the prestige this noble industry deserves?
In my opinion, it’s about elling the stories of how we change lives, empower people and communities, make a difference to the true consumer of our labours.
Only by communicating the positive impact of construction in our lives can we begin to elevate the industry to a more noble status; a vocation rather than a job.
It’s our responsibility as the voices of the industry to not just ‘tell what we do’ but explain the true value we deliver. Only by changing the perceived value of our work by wiser society can we generate the returns we need to re-invest and make this industry greater still.