Tackling the Construction Industry’s Skills Shortage
The UK’s construction industry is a major sector of the economy, and plays an integral role in the development and growth of the country. But despite its importance, the industry is on the verge of a significant skills shortage and this can pose notable problems in the future if not properly addressed.
In this article, we’re taking a look at this skills shortage, from the possible causes to potential solutions.
Lack of new workers
One of the key reasons for a skills shortage is simply the lack of new workers entering the industry. An ageing workforce with rising retirement numbers is in danger of losing a large number of talented employees in a short amount of time. Ideally, this would be counteracted by a steady flow of young workers coming through at the start of their careers, but this isn’t the case.
The construction industry has long been a more unattractive option for younger workers, largely due to the outside perception of the industry which tends to ignore the more creative, analytical and skillful aspects of the work. This leads to a more inconsistent flow of workers entering the industry at a young age, which leaves less chance of widespread skills being developed over the years.
This is perhaps the main issue influencing the skills shortage, and one that has long term implications, and efforts do need to be made not only to bring more young workers in, but also to take advantage of the current skills of older workers.
The consequences of Brexit still aren’t fully clear, and likely won’t be even after we have left the EU, but there is a distinct possibility that Brexit will have a dramatic impact on the construction industry. The skills shortage certainly isn’t new, but the timing of the Brexit vote has the potential to magnify the impacts it has on the industry.
With the EU’s free movement of labour, the UK has access to a large talent pool of skilled construction workers throughout the industry. Depending on how Brexit negotiations fare, the UK is at risk of losing access, or having impeded access, to this wealth of talent. If sanctions are placed on labour movement to the UK, workers will look elsewhere to ply their trade, while the UK misses out on skills that could be integral to the continued health of the industry and development of the country.
What can be done?
The skills shortage is definitely a huge concern for the industry, but there are things that can be done to help improve the situation and build for a more sustainable future. The effort should be widespread, between construction companies themselves, the government and schools/universities.
Focusing on making the construction industry more appealing to younger people is a good place to start. Showcasing the variety of roles available in the industry, and the vast number of different projects workers could be involved in, as well as the impact of construction on the country, are all aspects which are often hidden from view. Tackling this issue at an early age, in schools and all the way through to university, will help improve young people’s attitudes towards the industry from the start.
Companies themselves can also invest in apprenticeship schemes to help boost the number of home-grown workers in the industry, while the government plays a hugely influential role in the way they handle Brexit, potentially maintaining the wealth of EU workers finding jobs in the UK.
Bringing the focus back to the UK itself is wise, as the skills shortage is a long-standing issue. Ideally, changing the perceptions and accessibility of the construction industry here in the UK is vital to ensuring its long term health. As the country develops further, a rising demand for housing, among other things, will leave the industry spread very thin unless the skills shortage is tackled. Access to the EU talent pool would be a great advantage, and would help enhance the industry, but finding ways to bring in a steady flow of young, passionate and skilled individuals from within the UK will be key to future success.
Ever Readymix Concrete are proud to be a leading supplier of concrete throughout the Yorkshire region and beyond. We provide high quality concrete mixes to commercial and domestic clients, suitable for projects of any scale or size. We ensure prompt and reliable delivery, and our experienced team are on hand to offer advice to help you find the most suitable concrete mix for your project. To find out more about all of our services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.