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In the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, the cladding industry is going through a major shake-up as questions are raised about the quality of its products and actions taken to prevent such a tragedy from happening again.
There is a pressing need for industry-wide change. Vigorous new tests have been carried out on numerous cladding options on buildings across the UK. 228 residential buildings over 18m investigated have found to be fitted with cladding which has failed performance tests. It is thought that 30,000 buildings in the UK are fitted with cladding that is similar to those which have failed recent tests.
As a result of these findings, a collective effort is being made to achieve an effective solution to the recent crisis.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) is in the process of constructing a Building Safety Programme. The idea is that positive change will be sparked as a result of the findings.
The report calls for clarity to be brought to existing regulations throughout the industry, ensuring that a plan for maintaining high standards of construction can be explained in plain English.
The industry is facing increased pressure on this issue as recent negative press, such as the report from Dubai of a similar incident regarding exterior cladding, has drawn global attention to the industry and its safety standards.
Despite the uncertainty that has surrounded the industry in recent months the demand for cladding is still growing as increasing infrastructure and construction activities are driving demand and therefore growth, which is expected to continue at a CAGR of 4.8% from 2017 to 2025. The global cladding market as a whole is also expected to continue to grow and reach USD 111.1 billion by 2025, all of which is a positive outlook.
Looking at the future in regards to new government policy, there is an increasing push in these policies to meet environmentally orientated targets to achieve greater efficiency in all industries in the UK but also globally.
In the case of the cladding industry, there is a growing demand for enhanced moisture management and energy efficiency in project exteriors. It is vitally important that the industry doesn’t allow mounting pressures of meeting environmental standards to affect the quality and safety of their products.
This continued demand for cladding has highlighted an increasing skills gap in the industry. There is an urgent need for more apprentices to maintain the future development of the industry, while at senior level the capacity to make quick and effective decisions in a rapidly-changing market is at a premium. Up to 400,000 people in the sector could retire in the next 5 years.
Now more than ever it is crucial that cladding businesses have the best talent in the industry to affect positive change from within and help to rebuild the sector industry into a future where circumstances are changing very quickly and need effective strategic responses.