Last week Boris gave us our first hope that life after lockdown does exist. The government’s (somewhat vague) roadmap out of lockdown is a sign that slowly but surely we will be able to carry on with our lives again one day.
But what will the ‘new normal’ look like?
There is a lot of conflicting advice and information swirling around on how exactly we will be able to resume daily life. But the one thing that everyone agrees on is that there will need to be massive changes to infrastructure in order to keep us safe.
This is especially true for the transport sector.
Every form of transport from trains, planes to automobiles will be affected by the pandemic, and the ability to transform operations will be critical to getting the country up and running again.
Over the past week, we have seen a lot of interesting articles and white papers from industry experts. These specialists have put forward their best predictions for how the industry should react and what changes we can expect to see.
I’ve rounded up a few of the ones I found most interesting here:
Now I’m not going to pretend that we have more of an insight into the transport sector’s post coronavirus strategies than these firms, but there are some recruitment trends that we can highlight based on their research.
Here are our predictions for the skills that are likely to be in high demand in the near future…
There is going to be a much higher demand for Data Analytics and Modelling in order to understand and forecast short-term and long-term changes to travel behaviour and how people will interact in public environments.
2. Project Delivery
While use of major transport links is low, it is a great opportunity for some transport infrastructure companies to take advantage of the drop in demand to undertake capex works and enhance infrastructure assets.
The government may also wish to provide stimulus to the UK construction industry at a time when private developers may be considering pausing projects due to uncertainty.
Rail and Roads markets could see projects coming to market quicker than expected, with a corresponding spike in demand for project delivery skills.
3. Digital Transformation
Digital Transformation of construction will be accelerated as clients and contractors need to reduce the number of “boots on the ground” on-site to maintain social distancing, delivering a higher proportion of their work off-site. Experts in Digital construction and Design for Manufacture are likely to be in demand.
Adapting to social distancing means changes to streetscape and transport planning in cities and towns – more cycle lanes and wider pavements. This means there will be an increased need for public realm design, pedestrian modelling, and sustainable travel specialists.
There will be a need for restructuring experts across the aviation sector as consequence of the extreme financial impact on airports and airline business models of this crisis. Consolidation of airlines is undoubtedly expected.
UK regional airports have been impacted by a huge drop in revenue plus the collapse of FlyBe and face an uncertain future.
I also expect that we are likely to see a lot of movement of UK aviation professionals into other industries or possibly overseas to countries where their aviation market recovers quicker than the UK.
6. Electric Vehicles
In the short term, while the focus is on getting people around without overloading the roads, we may see a slowdown in electric vehicle adoption. Equally, some regulators and city leaders may relax green regulations to protect car manufacturers temporarily.
Long term however, sustainability will be a critical focus. Evidence from Chinese cities confirms that private cars, walking, and biking have gained the most share since the pandemic began, so electric vehicles will be higher on the agenda that ever before.
7. Business Case Appraisal
Funding for major capital projects will become harder to find, and some business cases that made sense two months ago will no longer have strong justifications. Experts in business case appraisal will be needed to review current capex pipelines and recommend which should still proceed.
According to the article by PA Consulting, only 9% of the UK public even want us to ‘return to normal’. So just about the only certainty at the moment is that things will, and must, change.