By Jay Parmar, Chief Executive of JIB
No rulebook could have prepared me for the challenging year we’ve witnessed when I took up the CEO role in October 2019. But, surrounding myself with a talented and impressive team, my first year has been both a rewarding and an educational one.
In my recent career I was involved in the automotive industry, a lively sector awash with forward thinking and innovation, particularly with the development of electric vehicles, driverless cars and smarter journeys. It was mind blowing to witness the transformational role the electrotechnical sector is playing as it delivers technology needed for smarter cities, use of AI, robotics and accelerating the UK towards its net zero carbon target. It is evident the wider industry of the built environment is on the cusp of a fascinating new era with the technology available to us but, with the well-recognised statistic that residential and commercial buildings account for around 40 per cent of the world’s energy consumption, it is a period that’s crucial that we get right. And for us to get it right we need the right people, doing the right things in the right way.
Of course, nobody could have predicted the massive interruption to business that came in the form of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown. The speed and spread of the virus took us all by surprise, not only threatening lives, but livelihoods – impacting on how we work, live and learning the new norms. For me, it brought to light a lot of things about our industry that we DO get right but, like with everything, it also exposed areas that we could be managing a lot better.
The JIB has responded to the pandemic by stepping up with a real steely determination and focus to do whatever it takes to support and engage with our members and their employees – with a laser focus on protecting the sector through this global challenge. Since March we hosted a series of Coronavirus webinars which saw nearly 1,000 delegates attending, looking for clarity, information and insights that they could act on swiftly. Speed and responsiveness were key as the advice and information was changing minute by minute – this fast-moving environment saw the JIB respond in equal measure, by tailoring advice for the sector and providing clear interpretations on the actions that were needed. Working in this unique social partnership between the ECA and Unite, the JIB worked collaboratively and took clear and decisive action by implementing flexible and supportive measures to ensure jobs and businesses are fully protected. The JIB was one of the first organisations to boldly take clear and decisive action to support the industry and its workforce by introducing flexibility to allow access and use the Government’s job retention scheme, option to purchase reduced benefits for furloughed staff and allowing staff to undertake socially valuable voluntary work.
The Construction Leadership Council’s recovery plan has helped the JIB develop and reflect the following key phases:
Those that shape the future rather than adapt to it will come out of this crisis in stronger shape and succeed. To enable this to happen we must courageously drive forward and collaborate with our partners and stakeholders. The JIB welcomes the opportunity to obtain feedback and input to help define and strengthen our recovery plan.
Going forward, our aim will be to:
In a wider scope there is still much work to be done to enhance the JIB’s service for its members and remain relevant, which is why, prior to lockdown, we were busy developing a comprehensive Business Plan for the JIB. The aim of this is to build on our longer-term strategic priorities of raising employment standards, achieving significant business growth and creating a safer built environment. This will be delivered through positive and stronger communication and engagement, which will involve building our capabilities, enhancing our profile, strengthening our offering and increasing our reach. In later blogs I will go into the key details of the Business Plan in more detail. However, during its development I had no idea just how important it was going to be in helping us prioritise our support and engagement as the country was plunged into lockdown and the activities and plans for the construction sector being drastically curtailed.
As we start to emerge out of lockdown, we will all need to start to adapt to live and work with this virus and I remain confident that our resilience, innovative and responsive sector will bounce back stronger and thrive once again. JIB will continue to ensure it remains at the forefront through increased engagement and support in these turbulent times. It will be a challenging journey – but not impossible.