How Will The Omicron Variant Impact The Construction Industry?
I was very excited a few weeks back when I finally booked my flights to South Africa for next year March / April time to visit my mum and family as it will be 3 years since my last visit. I even obtained written permission from my children’s school that they can take the additional time off. Well, that excitement was short lived when the news broke about the Omicron variant and South Africa was put on the Red List!
I’m waiting with bated breath to see if my holiday is ruined and at the same time, I’ve been following the news about the effect the Omicron variant, and the steps the government have taken as a direct consequence, are having on our UK economy.
Shares Magazine reported today that ‘UK stocks regained some of their earlier losses on Thursday but closed in the red as the debate around the potential economic damage caused by Omicron intensified.’
At the same time the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), who predicted that the UK economy will grow by 6.9 per cent in 2021 and then 4.7 per cent in 2022, being the fastest growth of any of the world's seven most advanced economies, issued a stark global warning on the threat posed to the worldwide economy by the new Omicron variant.
Presenting the OECD's latest report, the OECD's chief economist Laurence Boone said: 'We are concerned that the new variant of the virus, the Omicron strain, is further adding to the already high levels of uncertainty and risks, and that could be a threat to the recovery.'
The OECD also warned that Britain could suffer a setback if supply and worker shortages do not ease, and cited further key risks being surging inflation, supply chain bottlenecks and interest rate increases.
But it said there could be a boost to the UK outlook if workers fill vacancies at a faster pace following the end of the furlough support scheme, helping ease some of the labour shortages.
So how does this impact the construction industry? Glenigan reports that new construction work is forecast to grow by 7% next year, with over 112,000 high value projects due to start on-site from the 1st of January.
Most of my construction clients are monitoring the situation and are happy that the measures which have already become commonplace on their sites should still be effective against the Omicron variant in terms of health issues and service delivery capabilities. They are more concerned about the continued worker shortages, material shortages and material costs.
Sarah Beale is chief executive of the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), the public body that oversees skills and training within the UK’s construction sector and reports that ‘Construction has bounced back from the pandemic far quicker than the industry anticipated and we are hearing from our customers that they need quick access to a higher degree of skilled labour. Housing and big infrastructure programmes are causing strong output growth so labour shortages are absolutely a concern.’
The Omicron variant will have a direct impact on certain sectors of the UK economy, non-more so than the travel industry, however, the feeling is that the impact on the construction industry should not be as severe.
If you have a construction business and would like to discuss anything, feel free to drop me an email at email@example.com I'll be happy to advise.