Despite the Covid-19 health crisis impacting significantly on the Lifting Industry, Lifting Equipment Engineers Association (LEEA) Sector Benchmark Research reveals optimism for the post-pandemic future, and a move towards new and possibly more productive ways of working. Indeed, 72% of firms reported being optimistic for the next 6 months, with this increasing to 80% for the next 12 months. However, the breadth of specialisms and the number of supply chains in the sector have produced a varied picture in the research.
LEEA does not expect the sector to return to pre-pandemic patterns of work as there are now clearly different expectations around training, travel and work patterns, according to the research. The majority of firms (over two thirds) reported their attitude towards e-training had changed in the past 12 months, with it being seen much more as an option. Training by Zoom specifically has its supporters, with nearly three quarters of firms reporting that they now see it as a more likely option. However, there is clearly a view that face-to-face training remains the preference, regardless of company size or specialism.
Most firms are looking at more focussed travel, however, with 65% reporting that they expect to make changes to their business travel budget post lockdown.
Few can be surprised to see such a large percentage of respondents recording revenue falls due to the economic impact of the pandemic and associated lockdowns. Surprisingly, however, the survey reveals a larger percentage recorded an increase in revenue. The picture improves when looking over the duration of the crisis: during the initial pandemic period (April to June 2020), there was an equal split between those reporting revenues up or down compared to the same period in 2019 (45% each). But, across the longer period of April 2020 to February 2021, the balance shifts to 54% reporting revenues up compared to 39% seeing a drop, which gives reason for optimism looking forward. Nevertheless, there has been a dramatic impact on the workforce with an incredible 50% of respondents making job losses attributable to the pandemic across a range of roles. Half the respondents expect the workforce to be smaller in March 2022 than it was in March 2020. While we can speculate about the reasons behind the ups and downs, further research will be required to fully understand which parts of our sector did better than others.
Ross Moloney, CEO of LEEA said: “2020 has been a year that none of us expected. Our personal and work lives have all been impacted and as we look forward, we are now trying our best to predict what the future will look like. A year on from the initial lockdown in the UK, LEEA has issued this research aimed at helping us to understand the implications of the pandemic on our industry. It allows us to see the huge financial effects on our industry and the retrenching we are expecting concerning the size of the workforce, how training is conducted and changes to everyday work.”
The LEEA Sector Benchmark Research was disseminated to LEEA members and broadly to the industry using social media between February and March 2021. Of the 118 firms responding, a third reported that their Head Office was located in the UK, a quarter in the Middle East and 13% within Africa. The size of firms ranged from micro, employing less than 10, through to firms employing more than 50.