Last week at the Northern Powerhouse Summit in Newcastle, business and energy secretary Greg Clark announced a major new partnership between the government and the construction industry.

The new alliance is the most significant for 10 years and aimed to edge towards the government’s target of building 1.5 million new homes by 2022.

The £420m joint venture is intended to introduce pioneering state-of-the-art technologies to promote faster house building, reduce disruption on communities and boost productivity across the UK’s construction sector. The initiative will also include focusing on the “Clean Growth Challenge”, which has been created to reduce new-builds’ energy costs before 2030, slashing owners’ monthly utility bills.

Enhancing job opportunities

Further measures included in the partnership will focus on enhancing the opportunities for young people to establish a career in construction by investing £34m in improving training nationwide. By 2020, the plan is to create 25,000 construction apprenticeship starts and 1,000 Construction T Level placements to help give young people the skills that industry needs.

Greg Clark said: “The construction industry is fundamental to growing our UK economy as we build to invest in our future. Major infrastructure projects like HS2 and the commitment to deliver 1.5 million homes by 2022 mean that we need a construction sector that can drive innovation, delivering homes and infrastructure quicker.

“As buildings account for around 30% of total emissions, we want to ensure that we are at the global forefront in designing and building smart, energy efficient and affordable homes and buildings through the Clean Growth Grand Challenge, reducing the cost of families’ utility bills.

“This Sector Deal is supported by the biggest government investment in construction for at least a decade and will drive economic growth and create well-paid highly-skilled jobs in every part of the UK.”

The ‘bytes and mortar’ revolution

Referred to as the ‘bytes and mortar’ revolution, the government recognises the importance the construction industry brings to the UK economy, reliant on it for contributing around 50% to the economy. It is estimated that over the next few years, the expanding international infrastructure market will grow by 70%, allowing the UK to tap into a $2.5trn (£1.87trn) export market.

Upping investment and forming this new alliance is intended to speed up house building, deploying some of the most exciting new resources to pull together the digital, energy, manufacturing and construction industries. The objective is to create more sustainable, healthier and affordable homes, reducing the build time by half.

Andrew Wolstenholme, co-chair of the Construction Leadership Council, said: “Securing this deal sends out a statement about the vital contribution our sector makes to the country. Our industry builds the schools to educate the young, the hospitals to care for the sick, the police stations to keep us safe, the roads and railways that get us to work, the power stations that keep us warm and the homes we return to each day.

“We are an industry that must be at the forefront of the UK’s drive for future growth and prosperity – and I’m confident that this deal will help to achieve that.”