For the first time since records began, the number of unfilled vacancies (1.295 million) is greater than those out of work.
This makes recruitment extremely difficult. At the same time, the wages of many people in work are so low that they are also claiming benefit: There are almost 6 million claiming universal credit but only 1.257 million unemployed. An industry which can deliver on promises of high wages and career progression could be a beneficiary of this economic contradiction.
At this unprecedented moment in the UK economy, it's not a good time for an industry to be short of the advanced skills and talent it needs, but that's where the construction sector finds itself. In its latest Construction Skills Network report , the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) calculates that because of increasing activity in the sector over the next 4 years, there could be a need for as many as 2.78 million new employees in just 4 years. That's a recruitment rate of 1,900 a day.
The most critical specialist skills are likely to be those of carpenters, joiners, construction managers, electrical technicians, civil engineers, estimators and valuers but as the industry model develops, we can expect a number of entirely new, mostly digital skills to become just as important. In addition, office administration needs will inevitably grow.
Where are these employees to come from? The industry will have to not only entice existing skilled construction workers, it will also need to attract people into the industry both from other sectors and from those new to the jobs market.
In the year 2022/23 the CITB plans to invest something in the region of £233 million to support the industry. The money will be targeted at creating a wider variety of accessible routes into the construction sector. Apprenticeships will figure significantly in this initiative, with £60.3 million set aside as direct grants for businesses which take on apprentices. However, this is only part of the strategy, because it will take more than apprenticeships to fill all the gaps. On top of these grants, a further £50 million is available to 14,000 businesses to fund training.
The predicted shortfall in the number of employees is not the only challenge facing the industry. As the CEO of CITB, Tim Balcon says:
"Construction is vital in supporting the backbone of the UK economy. These future growth projections are encouraging after the stalling effects of the pandemic. However, this is set against a current backdrop of higher energy costs, material shortages, and associated price inflation that is currently hitting companies across the sector."
There may be very little that the industry can do to mitigate these other pressures, but managing an imaginative, forward-thinking expansion of its workforce is entirely within its power. What's needed is an innovative approach driven by lateral thinking and diversity. Tim Balcon again:
"Training routes into the industry will be a focus for us and we have to attract and retain those that are under-represented - in particular women and those from ethnic minorities. It will be a major task, but construction needs to evolve and reach its untapped potential for the national economy and our competitiveness on a global scale."
The construction industry has never experienced quite such a competitive jobs market before and there are signs that it is the most creative employers who will come out on top. Skills shortages are already pushing wages up, but workers have also come to expect careers that offer a much better work-life balance and family-oriented policies. If construction is to solve its recruitment challenges and play its full role in the growth of the economy, it will have to adapt and innovate.You can't afford to negelct your hiring strategy. If you want to keep your company on top and beat the competition, get in touch with Build Space at email@example.com for a free delivery call.