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Executive opinion Take advantage


Although the operating environment continues to be challenging, there are opportunities – and the ECA can help exploit them, as group chief executive offi cer Steve Bratt points out


W


e are all waiting to see what happens to the wider economy and, in particular, to the construction sector. The Offi ce for National Statistics (ONS) construction output statistics


for the second quarter of 2011 surprisingly showed some slight growth – one per cent on an annual basis and two per cent from the fi rst quarter of 2011. New work was up three per cent from the fi rst three months of 2011, and repair and maintenance work also grew by one per cent. Within all of this, housing new build grew by four per cent,


infrastructure grew by six per cent, and private commercial work grew by four per cent since the fi rst quarter of 2011. On the down side, private industrial work was down


by 10 per cent over the year, public non-housing reduced by one per cent, and private housing repair work also declined by one per cent. So what is going to happen next? Well, if we


and conferences taking place within the branches and regions, but also other services such as: ■ The energy solutions and technical helplines – manned by subject experts who can give practical and useful guidance on technical and commercial matters;


■ The revamped sustainability solutions section of the website – this is packed with information about green opportunities and other environmental issues of interest to members; and


■ The MCS Made Easy course – this demystifi es the green technology area and takes away the fear that contractors often have of this subject. After completion of this course, businesses will be in a position to take and pass the MCS assessment and gain access to government grant funding. These are just some of the services


knew the answer to this we would probably be making our fortune in some other way. However, it is clear that the long term trends remain of concern, particularly with the public sector cuts only now beginning to take effect and the private sector not showing the growth needed to compensate. Then there is the wider turmoil in the global economy, with growth rates in most major economies being revised downwards.


There is nothing more frustrating


than fi nding out that members have been paying for services they can get free from the ECA


available to ECA members. Outside of the green agenda, all of the other services available to members continue to be offered – and, in fact, the range is expanding. On my visits around the regions, it is sometimes suggested that, because the range of available services are so extensive, the ECA should do more to promote them. We


have listened to this and have recently provided a guide to available services, which has gone out to all members.


Opportunities and guidance This is the gloomy end of things. However, as I have commented before, there are some opportunities – particularly the ‘Great Green Hope’. The opportunities created by energy conservation and carbon reduction legislation are real – and are growing. Research suggests that entering a new and growing market that is emerging during a recession is a good move. Many of today’s famous brands such as Microsoft are testimony to such a strategy. But for your average electrical contractor, this is often a diffi cult decision, as it requires not only a leap of faith, but also potentially a degree of funding and the management of risk. This is where the ECA can help. We have recognised that electrical contractors have the


core skills to take advantage of these opportunities, and often all they need is help and guidance. I would therefore encourage you to take advantage of the support that is at hand. This includes not only the array of presentations


Getting the message across We have also made our e-newsletter The Source weekly and, of course, we also use this magazine. Indeed, because there are so many ways in which we do, or can, help members – from bonds and guarantees to management development programmes and loan labour schemes – it is best if you assume the ECA can help, and always contact us fi rst. Even on the rare occasions when we can’t help directly, we


About the author


Steve Bratt Steve Bratt was appointed group chief executive offi cer of the ECA in October 2010. He joined the ECA as chief operating offi cer in 2007, and became deputy CEO in February 2010.


should be able to fi nd someone who can. There is nothing more frustrating than fi nding out that members have been paying for services they can get free from the ECA. While you can’t change the economy yourself, and it will be a long, hard road to recovery, remember that through the ECA, you not only have a badge of credibility that will win work for you, but you also have a broad range of high-quality business support services available to help you not only to survive these diffi cult times, but also potentially to grow through these emerging markets. Make the most of them.


September 2011 ECA Today 13


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