Positives from Covid-19

For a long time, manufacturing has not received the attention and support that it should have had – in terms of national security of supply chains and Government support.


-Dr Troy Coyle, HERA Director

Our current state of play has created a massive disruption to business as usual – but are there any positives to come out from the Covid-19 pandemic?

Covid-19 has dramatically impacted us all in many different ways.

Of course, most discussions have been on the negatives of Covid-19, but here are five silver linings that we think may help build our resilience in the longer term.

After all, it is those that take a negative and turn it into a positive that come out of situations for the better! So lets ensure that it is our NZ metals industry that is taking advantage!

The significance of domestic manufacturing has come to the fore from Covid-19.

We have had significant disruption to global supply chains. The expected market response is likely to be a shortening of supply chains and a strategy of securing supply chains. This undoubtedly favours local manufacturing.

For a long time, manufacturing has not received the attention and support that it should have had – in terms of national security of supply chains and Government support.

The PM’s specific mention of manufacturing in her announcement on 20 April indicates the sudden attention to manufacturing as a core requirement of Kiwi’s economic and human wellbeing.

There is also likely to be a market change toward greater support for local manufacturing in consumer decision-making. Changes in consumer purchasing are also likely to support increased on-line purchasing.

Both of these are, in turn, likely to lead to increased warehousing requirements and this will stimulate warehouse developments, with structural steel playing a role in via, for example, portal frame designs.

There will necessarily be an increased focus on the upskilling of our workforce.

Businesses were already struggling to attract and retain quality staff and many had gone offshore to obtain these skills (e.g. welders).

Now, we have an unprecedented opportunity to upskill our own workforce and to demonstrate the significance and crucial role that careers in manufacturing and building and construction have.

HERA is well placed to support our industry in upskilling its workforce.

Infrastructure development is often key to stimulating the economy.

The Government has already announced its interest to fast-track “shovel ready projects”.

It would be expected that building and construction activity will be the recipient of significant Government support in order to stimulate the economy.

Most of these announcements relate to horizontal infrastructure and we hope and anticipate this will switch towards vertical construction support too.

Covid-19 has shown the importance of having a digital innovation strategy has become tangible.

While HERA has been banging on about the importance of a digital strategy for some time and the potential for disruption of existing models – some may have thought we were crying wolf.

Now, we have all had to come to terms with how we can pivot our operations in a world where physical connection is restricted.

The importance of digital communication channels also became evident during lock-down. This was a fantastic wake-up call.

Flexible work arrangements don’t necessarily lead to reduced productivity.

People just seem to have gotten on with their work and found ways to be productive during lock-down. Perhaps this will help reassure some managers who have not previously supported working from home or flexible work arrangements to be more open to these.

In fact, it will be a necessity as the post Covid-19 world will always hold the threat that we will have to go into lock-down again on short notice – so it is best that organisations are prepared for this.

Having flexible and work from home situations now actually becomes a risk management strategy.

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