2020 Business Predictions: Annette Forster, Group Marketing Director at Ibstock Plc

It’s that time of year, when Business Link Magazine invites the region’s business leaders to offer up their predictions for the year ahead. It has become something of a tradition, given that we’ve been doing this now for over 30 years.

While none of us possess a crystal ball, it is uncanny how accurate some of these forecasts have been over the years.

Here, Business Link catches up with Annette Forster, Group Marketing Director at Ibstock Plc.

As we look ahead to a new decade for the construction industry, it’s clear that one of the most important issues facing the sector is a widening skills gap.

According to a report by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB), 22% of the industry’s workforce are over 50, with a further 15% in their 60s. So, with as many as 40% of construction professionals heading towards retirement over the next decade, it’s vitally important for businesses across the sector to commit to developing the talent of tomorrow.

Whether that is investing in upskilling and training programmes for current staff, to the development of meaningful apprenticeships and graduate schemes, the onus is on the whole construction industry to be effectively harnessing the next generation of professionals.

For architects, specifiers and manufacturers alike, it’s also important to keep updated with the latest housebuilding legislation. With the government pledging to build 300,000 new homes per year, demand for construction components such as brick is likely to remain buoyant. What’s more, changes to safety legislation, particularly as response to the Grenfell Tower Fire, will encourage architects and specifers to ensure their projects – and the products used within it – are fully compliant.

At Ibstock, we are looking forward to building on a successful 2019, which saw us undertake a wholesale rebranding of our corporate identity and launch The I-Range; a suite of products and value-added services designed to further improve our market-leading offering for architects and specifiers.