UK: While the building services sector reports increased business optimism and welcomes the possibility of increased construction output, the industry must continue to ensure that it continues to meet the challenges of today’s business environment.

That was one of the key messages delivered by Bruce Bisset, president of the Building & Engineering Services Association, at the B&ES president’s lunch, yesterday.

“Recent pronouncements do point to the genuine possibility of increased construction output – if not by the end of this year, then certainly during the first half of 2014,” he told assembled guests.

“In the wider context, it holds out the promise of increasing confidence, increasing investment, increasing activity and increasing workload right across the board.”

Recognising this was not going to happen overnight, he added “We must make sure that our businesses, and our industry, are fit for the challenges presented by the emergence of new technologies and the requirement for enhanced technical and managerial skills.

“We must adapt to changing working practices – in particular, the use of Building Information Modelling, which will become mandatory on public sector contracts in less than three years’ time.

“We must continue to review the shape and structure of the workforce, to ensure that it remains fully in line with the needs of our industry and our clients.

“We must play our full part in the implementation of the Industrial Strategy for Construction, which sets extremely challenging targets in terms of cost reduction, project timescales and the minimisation of greenhouse gas emissions.

The B&ES President’s Luncheon 2013 was held at One Great George Street, London SW1 – the headquarters of the Institution of Civil Engineers.