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Looking forward to 2012: a year of opportunity

This week’s bumper issue of NCE really underlines the positive feelings about the medium to long term prospects for civil engineering now emerging across the profession as we head towards 2012.

A tricky old year

To be honest, most people had pencilled 2011 in as a tricky year some time ago. So it has turned out to be.

With the impact of the economic downturn biting and the impact of the Coalition’s aggressive stance on deficit reduction, few in the civils market have been truly immune from the reduced public spending reality or the private sector reluctance to invest.

The result has been, for most, across the infrastructure consulting and contracting sector, a year of chasing efficiencies, with reorganised strategic priorities and teams to match.

In short, it has been a sobering time in which many have been forced to really understand what they have to offer clients in the emerging environment of austerity.

“Good people and innovative ideas next year will be the difference between success and failure”

And while no one in the profession would ever suggest that the previous decade was a particular period of boom in the market, it is fair to say that 2011 did mark the end of a sustained period of healthy growth.

Thus you could argue that the process of reappraisal witnessed last year is no bad thing in terms of getting fit and ready to tackle the new challenges that lie ahead.

Yet as we read in the Infrastructure 2012 report in this week’s issue, there is a new optimism around investment in infrastructure − across transport, energy, water and communications there is a new understanding of how engineering can drive economic growth.

While clients across the UK and the globe are now operating in − and demanding services to meet − a new paradigm of investing less and seeking greater value for every pound spent, it is clear that they do now accept that failure to invest is folly.

That makes 2012 a year of opportunities that we cannot afford to miss in the UK. Not only have we got a spectacular London 2012 Olympic Games to provide a showcase to the world but there will also be the bonus of the recently announced £5bn cash injection for transport, energy and communication projects to spur business along.

For NCE it will also be a special year as we celebrate our 40th anniversary − 40 years of helping the civil engineering profession to communicate, celebrating your successes and challenging you to do better.

We will continue with that agenda throughout 2012. It is an agenda which will ensure that every engineer understands and appreciates the role that they can play to transform the UK economy.

Because ensuring that the positive feelings emerging in 2012 translate into enthusiastic and well rewarded engineers will be crucial. Good people and innovative ideas next year will be the difference between success and failure.

  • Antony Oliver is NCE’s editor

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