Over 900 construction industry leaders recently came together to spearhead a new campaign – Construction4Growth – aimed at kick-starting the industry.
The campaign, which has been welcomed by the Prime Minister, calls for measures to address concerning industry statistics. According to figures released by CITB-Constructionskills last month, 160,000 construction workers are currently claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance with 45,000 jobs lost across industry so far this year. Worryingly there is a potential further loss of 82,000 construction roles in the next five years.
Earlier figures from CITB-ConstructionSkills show that the sector is facing a skills vacuum with around one in six workers due to retire within 10 years and the number of young people in the industry more than halving since the start of the recession. So how can we ensure a skilled workforce for the future?
We ask two construction-related firms to share their views on the skills shortage and what they are doing to address this shortage within their own organisation.
Dan Maher, Partnership & Business Development Director for Kier’s maintenance business:
“Concerns about skills shortages within the construction industry were raised and discussed well before the current recession.
“Supporting education, training and employment programmes is an ‘invest-to-save’ policy that the industry must continue to embrace to prevent a broadening skills shortage in an uncertain economic future.
“The link between high levels of youth unemployment and the needs of the industry are two sides of the same coin. We need real investment in Britain’s built environment to support economic recovery, a recovery that will lend itself to greater delivery of youth and adult apprenticeships across the industry.
“Kier continues to support construction as a vocational option within schools, investing, as it always has, in youth and adult apprenticeship programmes across all its partnerships. Kier also has a graduate employment programme, ensuring the continuing development of Kier’s workforce of the future.”
Dave Stone, MD of Stone Technical Services
“We’re often seeking to recruit more apprentices but we do find it increasingly difficult to attract young recruits to the sector.
“If you join a company like Stone Technical Services as an apprentice, you’ll learn a trade from some of the very best in the business. You get the chance to gain industry qualifications and hands-on experience that could set you up for life. That’s what I did and now I’ve built up a successful business that operates all over the UK – and I want to give more young people that opportunity.
“But we are finding it hard to entice young people into the industry which surprises me as the rate of young unemployed people seems to keep on growing.
“There is a lack of traded labour these days so we have an up-skilling programme to allow us to perform a wide variety of services for our clients with our existing staff who constantly undergo the highest levels of industry training.
“We think that this is why our retention rate is good as people enjoy and appreciate that we are investing in them with training and advancements, including financial.”