June 2021 UK Project Management Round Up


Bad News (Construction Materials Shortages), BREXIT, Good News (the Queen’s Green Canopy, Nuclear Fusion, Orbital 02, Virgin Gallactic, Pandemic Progress), APM News, Sea Eagles return and a Splattered Bugs app



By Miles Shepherd

Executive Advisor & International Correspondent

Salisbury, England, UK


The month of May started cold and damp, and the project world was much the same.  However, we have just enjoyed a fine public holiday and similarly, the project world looks much rosier than expected.  True, there is some bad news but that is outweighed by the good.  So let’s get the gloomy stuff out of the way first.


The big problem in the headlines this month has been the shortage of building materials.  Previously, the shortage of bricks has been the main focus, but this month has seen warning from the Construction Leadership Council that there are critical shortages in cement, some electrical components, timber, steel and paints.  Similarly, the Federation of Master Builders reported that some of its members may have to delay projects and others could be forced to close as a result.  Chief Executive Brian Berry said “Small, local builders are being hit hardest by material shortages and price rises”.

There seem to be a number of factors causing the supply problems.  Demand has shot up as lockdown began easing.  “Unprecedented levels of demand” are set to continue. According to the Federation of Master Builders and reports on the BBC indicate significant increases in the number and size of construction projects that have led to skyrocketing demand for already scarce materials.  Factors include the warmer winter affecting timber production in Scandinavia and the cold winter weather in Texas affected the production of chemicals, plastics and polymer.  Trade with the Euro-Zone has also slowed, contributing to supply chain issues.

Other bad news is the Quarter 1 Trade figures.  Press headlines manipulate the situation, with various reports of disastrous slumps, small improvements month on month making it difficult to understand just what is happening so it is usually best to look at the Office for National Statistics (www.ons.gov.uk) for clear guidance and trend analysis.  The following highlights are from their Quarter 1 summary:

  • Exports and imports of goods with the EU, excluding precious metals, increased by £1.0 billion (8.6%) and £0.8 billion (4.5%) respectively in March 2021; both driven by cars.
  • Imports of goods from non-EU countries, excluding precious metals, increased by £1.5 billion (8.4%) in March 2021; mainly driven by imports of clothing.
  • Exports of goods to non-EU countries, excluding precious metals, increased by £1.3 billion (9.9%) in March 2021; mainly driven by exports of cars.
  • In Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2021, total imports of goods, excluding precious metals, were £14.5 billion (12.3%) lower than Quarter 4 (Oct to Dec) 2020, and is the first quarter since records began in January 1997 that imports of goods from non-EU countries are higher than from EU countries.
  • In Quarter 1 2021, total exports of goods, excluding precious metals, were £7.0 billion (8.7%) lower than Quarter 4 2020.
  • In Quarter 1 2021, the total trade deficit, excluding precious metals, narrowed by £8.4 billion to £1.4 billion.
  • In Quarter 1 2021, trade in services imports were £13.4 billion (27.9%) lower than Quarter 1 2020, while exports were £10.4 billion (14.0%) lower.

Not all the news is bad and some of the less appealing numbers are down to the pandemic.  Underlying causes are many and various, including BREXIT, to which I will return shortly, and the pandemic which has had a major impact as can be seen below.

There are, however, green shoots of recovery, as reported by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), the UK economy is likely to grow by 7.2% in 2021, up from its March projection of 5.1% – definitely not bad news but this is just a forecast.


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How to cite this report: Shepherd, M. (2021). UK Project Management Round Up, report, PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue VI, June. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/pmwj106-Jun2021-Shepherd-UK-project-management-roundup.pdf

About the Author

Miles Shepherd

Salisbury, UK


 Miles Shepherd is an executive editorial advisor and international correspondent for PM World Journal in the United Kingdom. He is also managing director for MS Projects Ltd, a consulting company supporting various UK and overseas Government agencies, nuclear industry organisations and other businesses.  Miles has over 30 years’ experience on a variety of projects in UK, Eastern Europe and Russia.  His PM experience includes defence, major IT projects, decommissioning of nuclear reactors, nuclear security, rail and business projects for the UK Government and EU.  Past Chair, Vice President and Fellow of the Association for Project Management (APM), Miles is also past president and chair and a Fellow of the International Project Management Association (IPMA).  He was a Director for PMI’s Global Accreditation Centre and is immediate past Chair of the ISO committee developing new international standards for Project Management and for Program/Portfolio Management.  Miles is Chair of the British Standards Institute’s Committee on Project, Programme and Portfolio Management and has been involved in the development of Uk’s BSI 6079 for more than 25 years.  He was involved in setting up APM’s team developing guidelines for project management oversight and governance.  Miles is based in Salisbury, England and can be contacted at miles.shepherd@msp-ltd.co.uk.

To view other works by Miles Shepherd, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/miles-shepherd/.