State Of The Nation: The Reality Of Life In The Infrastructure Industry
Alongside a number of other sectors, the infrastructure industry has slowly been rebuilding itself following the 2008 economic crisis. After almost eight years, confidence is high but looming cuts and rising costs are still a challenge, threatening to halt progress. For many consulting firms it is a balancing act between revenue growth and innovation, while still working to continually improve employee satisfaction and retain market share.
Deltek, together with Infrastructure Intelligence, sought to explore what it was like working within the UK infrastructure sector today by speaking with more than 160 professionals about the issues and opportunities. The results highlighted an undoubtedly optimistic industry, but also identified some pain points that need to be addressed if the industry is to move forward and shine once again.
Concerns in the industry
Boosting revenue was the top concern for many with only 24 percent of respondents stating they were experiencing the same financial success as pre-2008. This was followed by 48 percent stating they wanted and needed to increase revenue levels. However, for a number of firms, the struggle to maximise revenue can be a contentious issue because it negatively impacts innovation and creativity. In fact, 64 percent of senior professionals surveyed believe that innovation is being stifled as a direct result of low fees.
What is it like to work in the UK infrastructure industry?
But is this sector-wide austerity filtering down to the professionals and individuals that make up the industry? Or, putting it another way, what is it like to work as a manager, director or consultant in UK infrastructure?
Job satisfaction is high
Overall there is a lot of positivity in the industry with those surveyed largely happy with their employment situations – 61 percent of professionals received a pay rise in 2015 and it was noted that the infrastructure sector was the place where people seek and find professional stability. In fact, job satisfaction is high, despite contradictory media headlines. The ACE Retention Gap Report stated that 73 percent of staff will leave their employers within five years whereas only 35 percent of those we spoke with agreed with this figure.
Is diversity encouraged?
In addition, 88 percent of respondents believed their companies have measures in place to encourage diversity and inclusion, with only 18 percent of respondents having experienced discrimination. The bad news, however, is that of those 18 percent, 52 percent were women. In an industry that already battles gender imbalance these numbers are too high and reinforce the difficulties women face when trying to work in a male-orientated workplace.
Cause for optimism
Looking forward, 69 percent of people are positive about the progress of the industry and what tomorrow will bring. This buoyancy may be because a number of potential transport initiatives on the horizon are helping to bolster the mood. For example, 55 percent expect a third runway to go in at Heathrow, 38 percent believe changes to Vehicle Excise Duty will improve the country’s road network and 40 percent think that a change up in senior management will be beneficial at Network Rail. Only time will tell if UK infrastructure takes off as a result but it certainly makes the road ahead look promising.
For many infrastructure firms it will be about finding new ways to increase revenue, whether that is through expanding services, cutting costs or improving lead times, as well as making sure top talent is retained and engaged with the firm. It certainly looks like there is plenty of work coming down the pipeline, it is merely now a matter of planning the route to success.
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