27 June 2017

We are conducting a series of video interviews with infrastructure industry leaders and key decision makers to gather Perspectives on infrastructure.

Our first video interview is with Alasdair Reisner, Chief Executive at CECA, the representative organisation for the UK’s civil engineering contractors. Alasdair discusses how to tackle the challenges facing the infrastructure sector and how to improve the delivery of UK infrastructure projects. Listen to what he has to say in this video.

Video Transcript

The role of government and industry in infrastructure delivery (0:07 – 0:43)

We'd be looking for our new government to start saying what they're going to be doing about infrastructure and making the decisions that have been put on hold because of the election.

When we talk about industrial strategy, what we really want to see is the government recognise that its role is there to facilitate industry getting on with the delivery of that strategy. It must really be led by industry itself. If it feels like it's being done to industry we know from the past that that doesn't work.

But equally industry has got to step up to the plate itself.

We've got to work together to make sure that we become the best construction industry in the world and there's nothing that stops us from doing that if we're willing to work together.

The role of construction trade associations (0:43 – 1:03)

We would see that construction trade associations, in essence, are the route between the government and the wider industry. We're very fortunate insofar as we represent pretty much every major player in our sector. So we want to be able to work with them to draw together those views – to make sure that we're all saying the same thing and we're all working towards the same objectives.

Infrastructure investment in London vs. the rest of the UK (1:03 – 1:28)

We're looking at rebalancing of the UK economy it's hugely important... when you look at previous years we've seen very, very heavy investment in infrastructure in London and the southeast – that's essential because without it, London ceases to work and it's incredibly important to the UK economy.

But equally you're starting to see the same pressures exist elsewhere around the UK, so it's vital that the good work that's been done in London is replicated around the rest of the economy.

The impact of Brexit on people and skills (1:28 – 1:53)

Brexit presents somewhat of a challenge in relation to our people in the industry – both those who are already with us and those that we might need in the future. So we'd be looking that we can get the right people that we've already got secure, so that they know that they can continue to work in the UK and also where we do have those pinch point skills that we can't service from the UK market that we've got something in place that ensures we can bring in those vital people.

The pipeline of investment for infrastructure projects (1:53 – 2:44)

We need to remember that the UK government is the largest customer for our members. We want that customer to be satisfied, we want them to be happy about what they're buying. That means moving away from saying how can I get this the cheapest to instead saying how can I get the outcome that I want, that the taxpayer wants, out there in the market.

Our industry thrives on certainty and we can get that if we know what the pipeline of investment looks like. We think the government has made big strides on that in recent years. There's a lot more clarity about what potential projects are coming down the line and how likely each one is to actually emerge. If we can enhance that, if we can do more in that space to look at not just the next five years, the next 10 years...we're looking out to the next 30 years... industry will respond to ensure that it has the skills the capabilities that are needed to deliver that work load and that will reduce the cost of delivery.

The cost of procurement (2:44 – 3:05)

When we look at the big unnecessary costs in our industry, one of those that we see most frequently reported by our members is the cost associated with procurement. You do need to spend money to get the right supplier to work with you, but where you're putting out reams and reams of paperwork that's never even really checked by anyone that's waste that adds to the cost of the job but importantly doesn't add any value.

For more perspectives on infrastructure, read our industry report featuring 13 in-depth interviews with industry leaders and key decision makers in the infrastructure sector.

Perspectives on infrastructure

We've got to work together to make sure that we become the best construction industry in the world and there's nothing that stops us from doing that...
Alasdair Reisner, Chief Executive, CECA

How can we improve the delivery of UK infrastructure?

How can we improve the delivery of UK infrastructure?

Views from industry leaders and key decision makers, along with survey results from 1,651 members of the general public.
Read report