There is less than one month to go before the end of the Brexit transition period. From midnight on 31 December, the UK will be ‘on its own’ as far as Europe is concerned.

With this in mind, here are six critical challenges that the UK’s construction industry (in common with various other sectors) faces from 1 January 2021.

Workforce & Skills

Arguably this was the industry’s greatest challenge even before Brexit came on the horizon. In his excellent report “Modernise or Die “, Mark Farmer raised several key questions about the existing and future demographics of the construction industry. For many years the industry has struggled with a lack of skilled (and indeed unskilled) labour. Given the heavy reliance of the sector on migrant labour (with approximately 15% of the UK’s workforce being non-UK citizens) an already challenging situation is in danger of becoming a full-blown crisis.

Standards &

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THE Department of Health reported 934 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the lowest since November 4 when it recorded 987.

Prior to early November, the last time the daily case record below 1,000 was in mid-July.

The country now has a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) tally of 436,345.

An additional 63 deaths were recorded, bringing the total fatalities to 8,509. There were 148 new recoveries for a total of 399,457, the department said.

Active cases are at 28,379 or 6.5% of the total recorded cases.

Of the active cases, 85.4% were mild, 6.9% were asymptomatic, 4.9% critical, 2.5% severe, and 0.28% were moderate.

Meanwhile, local trials for COVID-19 vaccines will begin in January, according to the country’s vaccine panel.

“We may start by January, hopefully,” Department of Science and Technology Vaccine Expert Panel Chief Nina G. Gloriani said in a briefing Friday.

Five vaccine manufacturers applying for the … Read the rest

Stocks rose emphatically on Friday as traders pored through the latest U.S. jobs report, putting the major averages on pace for another weekly advance.

The Dow Jones Industrials continued their surge, rising 181.21 points to 30,150.73. Chevron and Caterpillar rose more than 2% each to lead the Dow higher.

The S&P 500 picked up 25.18 points to 3,691.90. Energy was the best-performing S&P 500 sector, gaining 3.7%.

The NASDAQ gathered 64.82 points to 12,442.

The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November, well below a Dow Jones consensus estimate of 440,000. The unemployment rate, however, matched expectations by falling to 6.7% from 6.9%.

Friday’s report comes as the number of coronavirus cases has been rising sharply. The U.S. reported record numbers on Thursday of new infections, single-day deaths and hospitalizations.

On Thursday, the stock market was hit by a report suggesting troubles with Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine rollout. Major averages swiftly … Read the rest

Millions of office workers and the companies that employ them will discover in 2021 whether the work practices they hurriedly adopted in the pandemic are a new normal or a crisis make-do best left behind. In the process, employers will begin to learn whether the workplace bets they’re making for the future are winners or losers.

The stakes are high. Only when returning to the office becomes a safe option will we see how employees feel about it after months of working from home. Beyond WFH policies, employers will confront major decisions on commercial real estate, including how much to have, where to put it, and how to design it. The future of cities, some with areas that are almost deserted now, will begin to reveal itself. Perhaps most important for the long run, employers will learn more about the hard-to-measure value of bringing employees together and balance it against … Read the rest

2020 has proved challenging for SMEs across all sectors but working with likeminded peers to address key issues and opportunities can help businesses to successfully navigate through Covid-19 and the ongoing EU transition.

At a time when SMEs need impactful support, working with other business leaders is an effective approach to share knowledge and find solutions in a trusted and collaborative space – and the new Peer Networks Programme, backed by the Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) – aims to do just that.

What is the Peer Networks programme?

Peer Networks is an initiative that will bring together SME businesses to support them as they work together on important challenges, while also coming up with tangible solutions in a collaborative environment.

The programme is being delivered in England locally by the network of Growth Hubs and supported by their respective Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs).

Peer Networks … Read the rest

By Beatrice M. Laforga,  Reporter

ECONOMIC MANAGERS once again slashed macroeconomic growth targets for this year as coronavirus-related quarantine restrictions continue to be implemented in parts of the country, but remained hopeful the economy will see a strong recovery starting in 2021.

“The Philippines has endured the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic through prudent fiscal management and evidence-based and decisive actions to address the global health emergency. As the economy gradually moves towards full reopening, we expect significantly better economic outcomes next year,” the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC), said in a statement released Thursday evening.

During its meeting, the DBCC once again cut its gross domestic product (GDP) estimate to an 8.5 to 9.5 contraction this year, “following the prolonged imposition of community quarantines in various regions in the country.” This is lower than the 4.5-6.6% slump it estimated during its July 28 meeting.

“Despite a lower Read the rest

U.S. stocks rose on Thursday, extending their recent record-setting run as better-than-expected economic data boosted sentiment.

The Dow Jones Industrials leaped 180.28 points to greet noon at 30,064.07, boosted by a 7% jump in Boeing shares.

The S&P 500 picked up 9.19 points on top of Wednesday’s closing high, to 3,678.20.

The NASDAQ regained 58.92 points to 12,408.28, a fresh all-time high.

First-time claims for unemployment insurance totaled 712,000 last week, lower than an estimate of 780,000 from economists surveyed by Dow Jones. Jobless claims also fell for the first time in three weeks as the labour market showed resilience even in the face of a worsening pandemic.

The U.S. Labor Department is set to release its closely watched jobs report for November on Friday. The U.S. economy is expected to add 440,000 jobs while the unemployment rate is estimated to decrease to 6.7%, according to Dow Jones.

On Capitol … Read the rest

In the legend, Robin Hood is a beloved outlaw stealing from the rich to give to the poor.

Now the company named after the folktale—the decacorn stock trading app Robinhood—is at the center of an identity crisis as critics accuse the company of giving up their populist roots in favor of hyper-growth. While its founders may not have sought to become wealthy, they are still likely to become billionaires if Robinhood goes public, and the company’s investors are likely to be significantly enriched by a deal expected to be announced in coming months.

Robinhood’s rise and struggles in recent months are the topic of my colleague Jeff John Roberts’ most recent magazine feature, detailing the founders’ motivations and the inherent issues with them as a company scales up into a business worth $11.7 billion:

“Those who knew Tenev and Bhatt at Stanford say the pair were more bookish than Read the rest

Shoppers have been waiting in virtual queues for over an hour as they rush to snap up deals on the Debenhams website after the chain confirmed its collapse.

The department store chain is being wound down after JD Sports pulled out of talks on a rescue takeover, placing 12,000 jobs at risk in a horror week for UK retail.

Many hoping to get a deal have been left disappointed after customers complained on social media of having to wait for extended periods of time to get onto the website, with some then being “kicked out” of the queue.

“50 minutes to get onto the @Debenhams website then after 5 minutes get kicked off to the end of the queue because my time is up what stupidity is this?!” wrote one person.

Others commented they had seen up to half a million people waiting in the virtual queue ahead of … Read the rest

THE PHILIPPINE government on Wednesday launched another dollar bond offering aimed to raise funds to cushion the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy.

The offering of 10.5-year and 25-year US dollar-denominated bonds would carry a yield of around 100 basis points above the 10-year US Treasury benchmark, based on the government’s initial guidance, Reuters reported.

National Treasurer Rosalia V. de Leon could not say at this stage how much the government aimed to raise from the bond sale, which follows a similar US dollar bond offering in April that raised $2.35 billion.

The Philippines, one of Asia’s most active issuers of sovereign debt, would use the proceeds from the bond sale to support its budget, the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) said.

Both chambers of Congress have approved a record P4.5-trillion ($93.7-billion) budget for 2021, part of which will be used to purchase coronavirus Read the rest