As we reach the end of another year, it isn’t hard to see why so many people will be pleased to see the back of 2021. It certainly wasn’t the year that anyone, including the construction industry, might have been hoping for. And to be honest, as we head into 2022, the news surrounding the ongoing pandemic doesn’t look that promising, at least in the short term.
It can take a while for the effects of something of this magnitude to hit and it is only now as we are almost at the end of 2021 that we are beginning to see the aftereffects not only of 2020 but also the coronavirus pandemic. These effects of course include issues with labour shortages, supply chain impact and volatile material costs and are still very much in evidence with a strong grip on the construction industry. Nobody could have predicted just how much of an impact the pandemic would have all over the globe nor that we would still be struggling with such a prevalence of the virus 20 months on. In fact the real concerns that the construction industry thought they would be facing, those brought on by Brexit, have been somewhat swept aside under the umbrella of Covid-19 and we have yet to fully establish just what their impact will be.
The construction industry has faced knock backs before and has not only managed to remain incredibly resilient but is also highly adaptable and even in the face of some incredibly trying circumstances there have been some success stories.
Based on what has taken place this year and the conditions that are being faced right now in the industry these are some of the possible predictions that could very well be faced in 2022, leaving project managers forced to draw on all their project management training to overcome issues that still arise.
Supple Chain Fatigue
Supply chain challenges are not a new issue, and they will be one that anyone involved in construction project management will be well use to hearing about. At the beginning of last year there was a huge drop in the efficiency of the supply chain with demand for construction materials outweighing supply. This has continued to increase, a fact which is actually driven by the huge amounts that are currently being poured into construction. This is great news for the construction industry as demand is still high. The finance is there, the supply will, of course, need to increase to allow construction to continue at this new pace it has found.
For at the least the first part of 2022 it is expected that there will be skills needed by project managers to provide creative solutions to the supply issues. This is something that many within the field of construction management believe will be an issue for at least the next couple of years as the industry continues to grow, and it seems that supply will not grow inline with this.
The demand for housing in particular, and affordable housing at that, has never been higher and this is certainly something that will need to be considered. Project managers in the field of construction will not just be needed on domestic construction projects. The pandemic has exposed a number of issues elsewhere and there is likely to be a need for public sector construction projects as well in the next few years. Improvements to hospitals and new schools may be top of the list as the pandemic has shown that class sizes are far bigger than they should be for the size of classroom in many schools.
Creative Methods and Solutions
The events of the last couple of years haven’t been all bad for the construction industry, the use of technology and creative solutions has increased significantly. Everything from modular construction to the increased use of project management software to assist with construction projects have come into play and in fact been embraced by the industry.
It seems likely that modular construction will also see an increase into 2022, not only is it faster but building the components where the labour is available really makes sense. On the whole this type of construction can in part solve the issue of labour shortages, escalating costs, and shortages in the supply chain. It also offers value and certainty to clients.
The Next Steps
The one big success story to come out of the pandemic as far as the construction industry is concerned is that the industry is an incredibly adaptable one. Everyone involved in construction has been able to pull together and work on viable solutions for so many of the problems that they have faced, from the shortages of building materials to the shortages of construction workers, and all of the other issues that the pandemic has brought such as working from a range of different locations. The realisation that the technology that is available can help so much in these situations has been a vital factor that has allowed companies to find new ways to improve not only what they do but how they go about doing it. Improvement of every aspect of a project, no matter what the industry, is something that a good project manager is continually striving for and in this instance the necessary push to help them with this has come from the most unlikely source.
It is perhaps a testament to the resilience of the construction industry that they have taken up the challenges of the last year, worked with them and continually found ways in which they can adapt to the challenges that they have faced. These are all things that look set to continue well into 2022 as well, and it is likely that there may be even more challenges around the corner that they will also need to tackle.
Nobody can predict exactly what is going to happen but with Covid figures rising all over the world the one thing that we can say in the short term is that there are likely to be shortages in workforce. This in turn will lead to more disruption in the supply chain that could have a lasting effect on the construction industry.