Back in October 2013, in my first ever comment for GeoDrilling International, I talked about the "challenging times" that the drilling sector had faced and continued to struggle through in the aftermath of the global recession.
I certainly wasn't introduced to a booming industry - not that many were at the time - and the general feeling among the companies I talked to was either a bit gloomy or cautiously optimistic. Builders and miners were left twiddling their thumbs, which meant machinery stood idle or never left the factory to begin with.
Fast forward to today, over four years later, while spending on projects and new technology isn't quite back to pre-crash and boom-time levels in many industries, things are looking a lot better.
From Thames Tideway to High Speed 2, the UK government has been investing money in infrastructure megaprojects, and there's more in the pipeline. However, it is clear that uncertainty surrounding Brexit has affected the country's economy, with the UK's latest GDP figures showing a slowdown in growth in the construction sector.
Nonetheless, word on the street, or in this case online, when it comes to UK geotechnical and construction work, has been very positive as of late. Even smaller operations have been buying new rigs and happily sharing the news on social media.
In some parts of the world, infrastructure spending still remains low - including in other EU countries - however, let's hope that improvement in economic conditions will turn the tide elsewhere as well. New infrastructure goals in the US are certainly very ambitious, but not much has happened on that front yet. According to the Washington Post, thus far, the US congress has only allocated just over 1% of President's Trump's promised US$1.5 trillion investment.
It's not all about money, however, as countries with low unemployment figures are facing a shortage of skilled workers. This is something the industry has been talking about for a long time now, but it still doesn't seem like enough is being done to train the future workforce.
The trials and triumphs of four and a half years ago, however, still seem very different to the ones today. The world has changed in many ways, but a lot has also changed for the better.
GDI is also changing. As I'm moving over to our sister title Mining Magazine as its new online editor, I wanted to say thank you to everyone in the industry who's made me feel welcome and helped me along the way.
I'm handing over the reins to GDI's new editor, Duncan Moore, who joins us from Metal Market Magazine/Metal Bulletin.
I look forward to seeing some of you at future mining events!