We enjoy connecting with our community on LinkedIn and recently posted a poll on the platform, asking our audience to contribute to a discussion about the skills shortage in the construction industry. We were keen to understand the common themes related to why the skills shortage exists, and we were blown away by the result. The overwhelming response was that the workforce is ageing and there are insufficient junior staff coming in to fill the positions that they leave.
The Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)'s report on the impact of the ageing population on the construction industry  confirms this to be the case, with only 14% of the current construction workforce aged under 30. This percentage is lower than that of the number of workers aged over 60.
It is clear that in order for construction to continue to thrive in the future, more needs to be done now to attract the next generation of professionals into the industry. There are many steps that can be taken to do so, and we urge all companies involved in the construction industry to contribute to the discussion, letting us know which steps you are taking, and which you are finding most successful.
1. Promoting the industry.
There have been a number of news articles this year promoting the good work that is underway in the building industry, but more should be done by the construction industry leaders themselves. It is essential that we highlight the benefits that the industry can offer to individuals, such as job security, opportunities for career progression and the ability to work on large scale building projects such as HS2 and the Lower Thames Crossing.
2. Embracing technology.
Advancements in technology offer significant opportunities to accelerate project deliveries, reduce costs and improve the health and safety of workers. Utilising technology effectively can also help the industry to achieve the 2050 net zero target towards which the government is working. With the next generation known for their interest in innovation, promoting opportunities for exploiting technology may be a positive step in attracting them to the industry.
3. Offering competitive compensation.
Generation Z are less money-driven than previous generations. They have an increased sense of social responsibility, so promoting the construction industry to attract these entrants will require a competitive and diverse compensation package. Whilst the salary and benefits offered should be commensurate with other skilled industries, offering bonuses and career opportunities based on the demonstration of environmental accountability and sustainable working practices could allow younger workers to visualise themselves in the construction environment.
4. Providing training and education.
When an ageing workforce is effective and working largely autonomously, it can seem daunting to new joiners trying to break into the industry, knowing that their lack of knowledge and experience will stand out. To counter these concerns, providing training and opportunities for further education can help younger workers to gain the skills and experience that they will need to succeed in the industry. Apprenticeships and buddying up with an experienced worker can support young entrants to develop their skills and ultimately achieve their ambitions.
5. Creating a positive work environment.
Promoting a supportive company culture where employees enjoy a comfortable work-life balance is essential to attract younger workers. Doing so effectively requires an ongoing publicity campaign and the buy-in of existing staff.
6. Promoting diversity and inclusion
The construction industry has one of the largest gender divides of any industry in the UK, with only 1% of on-site workers being female . With younger workers actively choosing to work for companies and industries where they feel represented and safe, this lack of diversity could be a significant contributing factor to the dearth of younger entrants. Actively seeking to recruit female construction workers on the same salary and benefits packages as their male colleagues and creating an environment in which they feel safe demonstrating their abilities would be a significant step forward for the industry.
7. Collaboration with educational institutions.
Attracting young entrants starts at school. By collaborating with educational institutions to create initiatives that introduce students to the industry, it is possible to ignite a passion for STEM subjects that will lead them to careers in the field.
Here at Build Space, we are seeing that clients that actively embrace technology are enjoying greater success in attracting new talent. By offering structured training programmes and mapping out career development plans, the younger generation can visualise a future for themselves in the industry, which not only gets them through the door but also retains them for the long term.
We believe that it is essential to perform regular salary benchmarking, both across and outside of the industry, to ensure that employee value propositions remain competitive. In addition to considering the financial benefits on offer, ensuring that the company culture is welcoming, conducive to high performance and delivers a sense of well being is essential to retaining talent.
Improving the diversity of the workforce is a top priority and funding certifications and industry accreditations can also attract younger workers who are seeking a long term career in the industry.