Industry in focus: Highways
As the number of cars on the road increase, what’s in store for the highways industry?
With levelling up plans and infrastructure investment on the table, the future of the highways industry seems to be looking exciting.
Here are some of the trends that will be changing the industry this year.
Improved technology and going digital
National Highways are investing £27.4 billion in their new strategic road network (SRN) between 2020 and 2025.
These plans are to help them provide safer, smoother and more reliable journeys for every vehicle and customer on the roads.
This investment will also be going towards ‘Digital Roads’ which is the newest evolution of our highways that will harness data, technology and connectivity to improve the ways the new road network is utilised and built.
Activities on the road will become more automated and conducted off-site, this not only improves the safety of workers on the highway but also reduces delays and disruptions to our road networks – meaning smoother, more productive journeys for customers.
Highways are going green
Every industry has to be on board with Net Zero if we want to reach our 2030 goals, so the highways industry is developing a sector-wide plan.
This includes the increase in electric cars and the infrastructure to support them, launching trials of zero-carbon approaches, and coming up with new innovative ways to approach carbon lock-up on our roads.
Addressing the skills shortage
Governing bodies in the highways industry are going to be undertaking a Highways Sector Skills Assessment in an attempt to address the current skills shortage that is affecting the industry.
The skills gap is far-reaching, and action needs to be taken now so there are enough workers on our roads to help the industry reach the ambitious plans set out in their investment programmes.
To achieve this, delivery partners must be brought in earlier, planning issues must be addressed quickly, and inefficient processes must be scrapped.
The industry plans to do more work signposting careers in construction and industry in schools, offering apprenticeships, easing the transition from school to work and encouraging students to study subjects that will be relevant to a future career in the highways industry.
Only when these are put in place, will the highways industry be able to make the sector a choice for talented, skilled people.