Culture change optimism and opportunity - UK Construction Week London leaves a lasting impression on industry leaders looking to the future of construction
Following three days of debate and discussion regarding culture change in construction, the feedback from UK Construction Week (UKCW) visitors has shown a clear sense of optimism and opportunity about how the industry moves forward to tackle its biggest issues, from fire safety and decarbonisation, to digitalisation, offsite manufacturing, diversity and inclusion.
UKCW’s London show – its first in the capital – was attended by more than 20,000 visitors last week (3-5 May 2022), alongside 300 exhibitors showcasing more than 10,000 products, some of which were being shown for the first time.
Demonstrating the strong demand and clear need for a dedicated all-round construction show, 71% of visitors to UKCW London had not attended UKCW before, and bookings for the Birmingham show (4-6 October) are already ahead of expectations.
The event attracted attendees from a wide range of sectors and professions with the largest being contractors, housebuilders and developers, architectural firms, local authorities, and housing associations. Not only did it serve as an ideal opportunity for learning, it also provided a wealth of networking and new business opportunities with 68% of visitors having direct purchasing authority and many reporting that these aims were overwhelmingly achieved.
Nick Whelan, commercial director, Kingspan said: “It’s the first time we’ve been here and we’ve had a lot of great leads and interest, particularly from contractors, which has been fantastic. There has been a good mix of CPD and commercial focus, so much so that we have already signed up for next year.”
The key theme for both UKCW shows this year is culture change in construction, making it the biggest event in the sector to address and debate the most crucial industry issues. No area of construction was left unturned with topics including Net Zero goals, sustainability and biomimicry, energy futures, retrofit, digitalisation, modern methods of construction, health and wellbeing, and diversity. The event also took a hard look at how to enact best practice and real change around building safety and the latest government regulations.
These subjects were driven by 15 keynotes and 300 specialist speakers who presented at multiple theatre stages and in hubs dedicated to innovation, CPD, offsite construction, sustainability, digital construction, and infrastructure.
Alison Parmar, London regional manager at ECA commented: “There was a really friendly and positive atmosphere, plus a fabulous line up of talks and presenters. It’s been great to see diversity and inclusivity so high on the agenda with it being such a hot topic.”
Tim Seabrook, managing director at Scanland Built Environment agreed adding: “UKCW showcased an incredible range of innovation and attending allowed me to contribute to some of the panel discussions with leading industry figures on culture change, professionalism and recruitment, procurement and Net Zero. Never has there been a time in this industry where there is so much progressive change, opportunity, and innovation.”
On the topic of building safety, Charlotte Collins, marketing and communications manager at the Fire Protection Association commented: “We really enjoyed coming together with the industry and keeping the important role of fire safety high on the agenda for the built environment. It was the ideal platform for us and we look forward to connecting with those who visited our stand to help them reduce any fire-related risks and achieve stronger resilience against the threat of fire.”
Gavin Skelly, director at Fireaware added: “We’ve done a few shows since the lockdown was lifted, and I have to say that this has been the best. It’s the diversity of people we get to talk to at UK Construction Week. So many different sectors – the spread of visitors is really useful to us. The quality has been great too.”
As part of the event, a number of awards were presented to exhibitors with the best stands, including to Bosch, Xero, LAMILUX, Planet Mark and SEMIN.
Another cause for celebration was the announcement of the coveted UK Construction Week Role Models shortlist nominees, and the well-deserving winners of the Fix Radio Tradesperson of the Year Awards. The ultimate winner of the Role Models Awards will be announced at UKCW Birmingham.
Dip Powell, concept implementation manager at Bosch said: “We had interest from visitors ranging from students, retirees, contractors and suppliers and everything in between. Seeing young people and some of the Role Models engage with us and the industry like this has been particularly great and really encouraging.”
Summarising the show, Nathan Garnett, event director said:
“It's been wonderful to spend our first London show with so many inspired and talented construction professionals, change makers and disrupters that are truly dedicated to building on the positive culture shift that we’re seeing across the industry. We’re honoured to have been joined by such passionate, knowledgeable speakers and innovative exhibitors who embody these themes, and are extremely grateful for the positive feedback we’ve received from our guests.
“Every visitor to UKCW is a part of driving this positive change, and It’s been fantastic to come together as an industry to debate, demonstrate and celebrate in equal measure just how ever improving and evolving construction is, and witness the transformation that has taken place in the last year. Thank you to all involved for making it the success that it was and giving the show such a warm welcome in London.”
UK Construction Week will be back in London in May 2023, but now looks forward to Birmingham on 4-6 October at the NEC. Once again it will run alongside co-located shows the Offsite Show, Concrete Expo and Grand Designs Live.
To find out more about UKCW Birmingham, visit www.ukconstructionweek.com