Old Years’ Resolutions

I did not bother with New Year’s Resolutions this year: partly because I know from past experience that my commitment is as fleeting as a politician’s promise; but also because there are too many industry resolutions that are now far too long overdue.

It is time that the demolition and construction industry truly got to grips with the mental health pandemic that is leading upwards of 500 predominantly young men to take their own lives each year.

The suicide rate within the construction industry is now fast and shamefully approaching a figure that is four times the national average. The fact that we are aware of that fact and have so far chosen only to apply sticking plaster awareness solutions surely suggests that the industry is not as caring, warm and cuddly as it would have others believe.

It is time that the demolition and construction industry finally got to grips with the skills shortage that has plagued the sector for generations. It is also time to question how industry training providers continue to grow ever wealthier even as we fail to attract the much-needed influx of young talent the industry so desperately craves.

The fact that we have cards and courses for everything, that we have swapped real competence and skill for pieces of plastic surely suggests that something within the system is broken.

The fact that we continually fail to attract young people to an industry that reshapes the very landscape of the nation suggests that we’re not as hip, groovy and “down with the kids” as we would like to believe.

It is time that we finally accepted that – for all the campaigns, initiatives and social media activity – demolition and construction still falls a long way short in its engagement with women, racial minorities and anyone that is not straight, white and fiercely heterosexual.

The fact that attitudes on many sites still hark back to the bad old Benny Hill days of old suggests that we’re not the progressive and all-embracing industry we would like others to believe.

It is high time that we saw some resolution in the Competition and Markets Authority investigation into collusion within the UK demolition industry.

The fact that it has taken almost four years to trawl through the bid-rigging scandal surely suggests that the industry is not as transparent and squeaky-clean as some would have you believe.

And it is surely time that the investigation into the boiler house collapse at the Didcot A Power Station in 2016 was finally concluded.

In just a few weeks’ time, seven years will have elapsed since that fateful day that claimed the lives of four demolition workers. During that time, we have had two monarchs and five prime ministers. But we have had no explanation on why those four men died; and why their families have been kept waiting in such a cruel and heartless manner.

The fact that the seventh anniversary of that accident could still pass without any form of resolution or justice surely suggests that working men and women are still seen as expendable.

On that note, I wish you all a safe and happy New Year. I pray that these ghosts of New Years’ past are finally and belatedly exorcised; and that they no longer haunt the sector when 2024 rolls around.