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The public works sector faces unprecedented challenges, the bow wave of deferred works, a skills shortage, and ever-increasing environmental and social expectations.  Many areas of our sector are faced with significant regulatory and structural reform.

At times like this we need stories showing how a bold approach can meet these challenges.  Being bold can be illustrated in many ways.  Innovation, of course, always requires courage.  Or boldness can be shown by challenging an overly risk adverse attitude by declaring that we’ve done enough, we accept the residual risk, and gaining a community’s agreement.  A mature approach to risk is a significant area of interest.

The methods of design and construction are continually changing, either by evolution, or step change.  Partnerships between all participants will be important, with a shared desire to seek the advantages of new methods, invest in them if necessary, and share the risk and reward.

The predicted skills shortage will challenge us.  New people from diverse backgrounds will be needed.  Our sector needs to be outspoken with the community, demonstrating the value of investing in the training, and networking of our people so that we can adapt to what the future will require.  Equally, we need the stories showing how young people have been drawn into our sector and developed exciting careers.

The way that infrastructure is procured is always evolving.  An imbalance in risk allocation, over-caution, or onerous procedures are common.  Let’s hear some stories where overall objectives are achieved through clever approaches, while protecting the fairness and integrity of the industry.

We require leaders who have the enthusiasm and wisdom for the challenges ahead.

Roger Oakley
Conference Chair

Roger Oakley, Conference Chair - Portrait