Help’s in the pipeline

Newly updated with 1,500 public sector projects worth £11 billion, the Construction Pipeline Forecast Tool can help businesses identify, track and plan new opportunities across Scotland


Someone using the Pipeline Forecst Tool on a tablet computer

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit nearly two years ago, the construction industry, like all other sectors, was badly affected.


A Scottish Chamber of Commerce Economic Indicator published at the time highlighted business confidence across the sector was at a record low, with more than half of firms surveyed reporting a decrease in future investment intentions as well as in their training budgets.


A year prior to COVID-19 hitting, the Scottish Construction Leadership Forum was established to develop and implement an action plan of improvement initiatives aligned with government policies, with the Scottish Futures Trust taking a lead role.


In an effort to help Scotland’s construction sector recover from the impact of COVID-19, the Forum’s members published a Recovery Action Plan in October 2020. This was created following extensive consultation between the construction industry and public sector, with a focus on what action was required now to respond to the pandemic.


One of the actions we were tasked with was to develop and create a construction pipeline database. The premise was to create a detailed pipeline of future public sector construction projects that would provide businesses, both large and small, with greater clarity and understanding of future construction projects to be delivered across Scotland, allowing them to plan accordingly.


In June 2021, after working closely with Scottish Government, procuring public bodies and numerous industry partners, we launched the Construction Pipeline Forecast Tool. At its launch, the free online platform contained details of more than 1,150 individual construction projects with a value of more than £8.5 billion. And at its six-monthly refresh in January 2022, the number of projects increased to more than 1,500, taking the pipeline value to more than £11 billion.


Of these 1,500 new project opportunities, more than 800 are below £2 million in value – the vast majority of them in the housing and education sectors – helping create many new business opportunities for hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses working across the sector. The tool allows any registered user to simply and easily explore the data held using various criteria that includes the chosen procurement route, the procuring authority, contract value and sector.


The next refresh of the pipeline database will be in summer 2022, when it is expected to continue to expand and grow as more and more public sector contracting authorities see its benefits and join to provide details of their future infrastructure projects


By providing greater transparency on future workloads, the pipeline will help businesses of all sizes better plan and maintain their investment in skills and future training needs. It is also intended that the pipeline will encourage collaboration between public sector organisations through a greater understanding of their respective investment pipelines.


The pipeline also seeks to provide a longer-term view on future investment and includes details of construction projects up to 2028, with the majority of the spend planned for before 2025.


The types of construction projects include new build, refurbishments, maintenance works across 20 sectors that include health, education, housing, justice, offices and retail.


When the pipeline was launched, Ivan McKee, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, said:


“This is a crucial time for business, trade and investment in Scotland and we are pushing forward with an ambitious agenda of recovery and economic transformation. Construction will play a key part in that recovery, delivering critical infrastructure and supporting our important net zero commitments.


“By working together and galvanising the expertise and ingenuity of the construction industry, we can enhance Scotland’s economic potential and deliver greater, greener and fairer prosperity.


“This online tool will provide businesses with the pipeline visibility they need to plan investment in skills, labour and materials which will support jobs and business growth.


“It also delivers new opportunities for small and medium-sized business across the sector by providing visibility of smaller contracts.


“This key ask from industry has been delivered through the Construction Leadership Forum Recovery Plan – demonstrating how we can work together to deliver the changes the sector needs.


“This is just the start of an exciting process and I encourage other public bodies to share their data to broaden their market access.”


Importantly, our work continues to ensure the Construction Pipeline Forecast Tool remains current and relevant and is updated every six months to ensure the construction sector receives up-to-date and vital information that helps them manage their businesses effectively and plan for future work.


The pipeline tool is one of a number of initiatives that the Scottish Future Trust’s Construction Industry & Delivery team has developed to support improved outcomes across the construction industry and the public sector.


 

‘We’ll be using it’


Inverness-based flooring, plasterboard and ceiling firm Clanco is already looking forward to using the web-based tool. Eddie Macdonald, general manager and estimator, said: “I can see how it’ll be very useful in giving us an early heads-up of potential work and that will allow us to plan ahead as well as making sure we don’t miss out on tendering. It’s certainly something we’ll be using.”


 

Try it out


The Construction Pipeline Forecast Tool can be accessed at pipeline.scottishfuturestrust.org.uk


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