Infrastructure leaders are predicting a digitally driven post-Covid recovery and a return to a pre-crisis outlook within 18 months, according to a confident new report by Atkins.
Atkins – a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group – has shared the findings of its independent research which assesses the impact of Covid-19 on the UK infrastructure sector, measures confidence, and explores the roles of government and the private sector during recovery.
The work – which was carried out by the independent market research organisation Savanta ComRes on behalf of the Atkins – represents the first comprehensive survey of senior public and private sector decision makers across different subsectors within infrastructure, particularly transport, property and utilities.
In total, 398 responses were completed via an online survey during June and July 2020 and eight in-depth interviews were conducted.
The report - Infrastructure Insights: COVID Impact and Recovery - found that while the industry has been impacted by the pandemic – with organisations reporting that 16% of the work they had on immediately before Covid-19 had been postponed or cancelled completely – 52% of senior decision makers were confident that they would see outlooks for the sector return to pre-crisis levels by Q4 of 2021. In the private sector, almost 7 in 10 respondents predicted a return to their organisation’s pre-crisis outlook before the end of next year.
The report also reveals that 65% of senior decision makers would like to see the government provide a clear roadmap to help the sector with the recovery from Covid-19, while 53% want to see increased spending beyond the 2020 budget commitments and 53% called for better co-ordination between central and local government.
And, in a clear sign of what could be seen as a strong sense of confident industry resilience, only 3% believe that their organisations are not well prepared for recovery.
There is general agreement that the sector will not emerge from the crisis in the same form, with the vast majority of respondents agreeing that digital innovation will be increasingly important. It’s also clear that senior decision makers want to see digital innovations from the design, engineering and consultancy sector to help support their organisation during the Covid-19 crisis and recovery.
Richard Robinson, Atkins UK&E CEO said: “The findings set out in this report represent a compelling and powerful take on the sector and its path forward. While it’s clear that we need a finalised National Infrastructure Strategy to give us more clarity and confidence, there’s an expectation for the private sector to step up the use of technology and data to accelerate the recovery by building back smarter as well as better.”