Bridging the construction skills gap


Following the announcement from the Construction Industry training Board (CITB) that they intend to outsource the direct training that they currently provide to other providers by 2020, the Unite Union voiced concerns that some of the vital and bespoke training capabilities would be lost. This comes at a time when the construction industry is already facing a well-documented shortage of experienced and qualified workers.

Exploring the challenges

The construction industry has been a growth sector for a number of years and it is widely accepted that this growth is set to continue. It is important to remember however, that, following the recession of 2007 to 2011 according to a report on eSUB, approximately 2 million construction jobs 'disappeared', causing many skilled workers to leave the industry. Statistics from the Nation Association of Home Builders found that there is a deficit of approximately 200,000 workers returning to the industry. This deficit is being keenly felt by the construction industry as they are forced to increase remuneration to attract the labour that they need to be able to staff projects with qualified workers.

Apprenticeship programmes and a diminished focus on trades and vocational training in schools and colleges, has meant that an employer has less opportunity to train new employees in the field, where they are able to gain valuable hands-on experience. As a result, the Construction Industry has seen an overall decline in young workers joining the sector.

This lack of hands-on training has, in some cases, lead to inexperienced workers being thrown into the field untested. In an industry where mistakes can lead to devastating results, this is a concern for the sector and its ability to demonstrate its ability to protect the workforce.

In order to attract a new workforce the Construction Industry need demonstrate the long-term benefits of a career in this sector beyond an ever increasing remuneration package, as the cost of labour to project owners and contractors grow, so that it is able to attract and retain the range of skills required to complete a project.

Facing the recruitment challenge head-on

Researching and understanding the motivation of ‘Millennials’ is a must for most industries, in order to futureproof recruitment strategies. According to recent recruitment industry research, ‘Millennials’ are looking for a long-term career path and with the Construction Industry forecast to sustain growth, employers in the sector need to work to remove the stigma of the boom and bust image portrayed by the media.

The Construction industry has faced many issues with its sustainability record and green issues are of interest and importance to the 'Millennial'. With the introduction of pre-fab and modular projects, employers in this sector are able to show that the industry is really beginning to move into a ‘greener’ era. New technology and learning how to use it is a key factor in a ‘Millennials’ career choice and with the introduction of new technology in the sector such as drones and 3D printing capabilities, the industry is able to offer training in new and cutting edge tech, as well as offering new roles, alongside the traditional skills associated with the industry.

Retentaining skilled workers

Construction companies are beginning to delvelop mentor programmed where their skilled and experienced workforce are encouraged to develop less experienced or unskilled labour. Allowing experienced employees to learn man-management, training and supervision skills to their job role and demonstrating a 'due care' attitude and approach to the workforce.

Changing perceptions

There would appear to be a re-education role by the Construction Industry to show a new generation of workforce that they have a long-term career path when they join the industry, where they can safely learn new skills and be at the cutting edge of new technologies and sustainable projects.

At WRS, we have a combined pool of 50 years’ experience to draw on to help you devise the right recruitment strategy for your company that will allow you to futureproof your pool of skilled resource, giving you the edge over your competitors.

To speak to one of our consultants call 0161 926 2525