John Boys recently took part in a video interview with Burnley College. The topic of the conversation was the challenges that B&E Boys (and the construction industry in general) have faced during the COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown.
John Boys started off by explaining how the company’s business practices have had to be changed during the lockdown. Like all businesses, B&E Boys had to adapt quickly. In practice this has meant making use of video conferencing apps, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. This enabled staff to keep things going and to stay connected. Obviously, the nature of the construction industry means that some ‘on site’ meetings will always be required. However, on a personal and professional level, it has been advantageous to be able to remain so connected.
The lockdown has dictated that the company has had to become more resourceful than ever, in terms of having to ‘spread the net’ wider than normal to source materials that have been in short supply. Naturally, this has caused cost challenges as well as time challenges. Having said that, the company have been pleased to see how supportive clients and other industry stakeholders have been to each other during such a difficult and unprecedented period. It shows how important it always is to build positive relationships with clients. The industry has become fragmented because of the pandemic – supply of materials is less reliable than normal and businesses have been operating at a different pace. However, the positive support and understanding has helped see everybody through.
As well as this, John Boys detailed how B&E Boys have introduced various social distancing measures on site. These include additional spacing arrangements and staggered breaks to minimise contact in shared areas, such as canteens. Although the industry is expecting to be working at a slower pace for at least the rest of the year, the company is liaising with clients and partners to continue to deliver solutions that work for well.
Burnley College is keen to ensure that the apprenticeships and Construction courses properly prepare students to work in the industry. The college’s Employer Engagement Strategy is all about ensuring students are taught the skills that businesses really need.
Of course, B&E Boys already have strong links with Burnley College. The company are always happy to support apprenticeship programmes and attend open evenings and presentation evenings. It’s vital for all concerned that these close links are maintained between education providers and employers working in the industry.
B&E Boys have also completed projects at Burnley College in the past. This includes a £4million project involved the construction of a brand-new steel-framed Construction Skills Centre and a new Technology Block. The company has a rich history of completing a wide range of projects within the education sector over the years.
The video interview shows how hard the construction industry has had to work over the last few months to overcome the challenges caused by the pandemic. However, it’s also important to note that many positives have come out of it. John Boys said that Microsoft Teams will undoubtedly become a part of normal practice within the industry. It makes it easy to hold meetings without the need for sometimes very time-consuming travel.