The Building & Engineering Services Association (B&ES) must help its members tackle the challenges that lie ahead for the market, according to newly elected president Jim Marner.

Speaking at the B&ES annual general meeting, Mr Marner said the Association would work to help its members turn these challenges into business opportunities, and set out the agenda for the year ahead.

"We must address the skills shortages, which, at every level of the workforce, are threatening to limit the extent to which members can take advantage of the economic recovery," Mr Marner pointed out.

"We must continue to fight for the introduction of a fairer and more equitable payment culture that will allow businesses in the sector to operate profitably and to invest in skills, resources and technology. We must try to establish a more accessible and transparent pre-qualification regime."

The president added that building engineering services must continue to hold its position "in the vanguard of the digital revolution".

Turning to the construction industry as a whole, Mr Marner reminded his audience that the Association must promote "intelligent thinking" at the outset of each project – along with an appreciation of what each party can contribute to its overall success.

"We must encourage the professional teams to provide detailed designs at an earlier stage – and so minimise the problems that will inevitably emerge once we are on-site," he said. "We must lobby for smarter procurement, preferred supply chain status and open-book, two-stage tendering – whereby firms can establish their competence, capability and financial stability before investing significantly in the production of detailed designs for a job they may very well fail to secure.

"Above all, we must re-establish trust between clients and contractors, and emphasise what all parties bring to the achievement of a successful construction contract," the president concluded.