Over the years, we have seen the demand from clients for social value across all sectors and at each stage of a project, from planning through to completion. The term social values itself covers a diverse set of considerations from upskilling, providing job opportunities, delivering sustainable and healthy communities, and driving climate changes. 

We have all witnessed how Covid has exacerbated socio-economic issues, and not only in areas that were already deemed to be disadvantaged. When coupled with Brexit, the narrowing of the skills gap within the construction industry and lack of available workforce within the hospitality and healthcare sectors presents a worrying glimpse into the future if we don’t act now.

Social value should be a sustained effort that naturally embeds within your business culture, not only looking to close the skills gap within the construction industry but to identify localised support within communities. 

How can you do this?

  • Embed it within projects
  • Focus on the local community – no one can solve everything in one go
  • Make everyone accountable
  • Monitor it and support it with data back up
  • Communicate the outcomes

Get support from everyone involved in projects from the onset: clients, local authorities, consultants, contractors, and their supply chains. 

To ensure we really make a difference in the communities that we live and work in, we must listen to the needs of local people and organisations. Whilst we might not be able to solve every issue that is presented to us, by putting business competitiveness aside when it comes to sustainability, and collaborating on such matters, we can work with and support VCSEs and establishments that have existing provisions in place to achieve greater results for local people and the planet. 

Monitor and support it with relevant data, for example, if a target is to recruit a number of apprenticeships, track the progress of the apprenticeships, look to develop it long term, follow individual stories and share the information so people can see the impact they are having on a personal level.

Where does sustainability fit in this?

Recent and shocking environmental events such as flash floods and wildfires, stresses the importance of embedding sustainability into the planning stages of any project (regardless of its sector) and can be our contribution to protecting future generations and the planet from further detriment. It is fair to say that over the years, there have been trends or buzzwords if you like that present themselves within political agendas, in an attempt to create positive change. The latest focal points revolve around Net Zero and digital – both of which are responding to Covid insights and climate change.

The pandemic has heightened awareness of digital exclusion and the UK’s leading digital inclusion charity, The Good Things Foundation found that 72% of community organisations delivered learning and technology support during Covid to help people get online, and remain online, including helping people to work remotely. Furthermore, local findings show that over 700,000 people in Greater Manchester are only using the internet in a limited way. Digitalisation is increasingly dominating how we live and access a wide range of services, such as: 

  • Banking 
  • Housing (Private and social)
  •  Applying for jobs and training courses
  • Working from home
  • Health appointments and treatments
  • Government benefits
  •  Remote learning
  • Hearing of community classes and events
  • Connecting with family and friends
  • Shopping

There is a strong tangible link between the construction industry, digital and carbon – by reducing digital exclusion, in turn, we can support local authorities with their aspirations around net zero. 

Leading contractors are reinventing how they work by showcasing modern methods of construction, such as building off-site for quick and easy assembly to reduce accidents and offset carbon emissions. In most cases, younger generations have grown up with technology and are mindful of climate change. By exposing younger audiences to an array of careers available in construction, particularly jobs around environmental and digitalisation, and in response to the demand of BREEAM accreditations, and the rapid use of Building Information Modelling (BIM), we can tap into their interests and talents whilst reducing the industry’s skills gaps. 

Each person and organisation can play a part in contributing to positive change, whether it be social, economic, or environmental. We have a great opportunity in the construction industry to drive positive change – let’s not waste it.

To find out more about Hive Projects’ corporate social responsibility contact at nin.khoshaba@hive-projects.com