The UK construction industry faces a critical shortage of skilled workers, compounded by a lack of interest from the younger generation. Recent research indicates that only 6% of 18-24 year olds consider a career in construction, raising concerns about the industry's future viability. Although T-Levels and apprenticeships aim to address the skills gap, a proactive engagement with educational institutions and community outreach is crucial. To prevent a talent cliff-edge, construction companies must collaborate on diverse entry routes, including skills bootcamps, educational partnerships, recognizing transferable skills, and dispelling industry stereotypes. A culture shift and substantial investment are essential for lasting positive change and securing the industry's future.
The construction industry is on a transformative journey towards a more sustainable and resilient future. As we progress along this path, we question whether we are suitably equipped to overcome the recruitment challenges that this journey will inevitably highlight.
We recently polled our LinkedIn community to determine the extent to which securing workers with green skills, technological prowess and the ability to navigate changing rules and regulations is concerning our audience. It was not a surprise to hear that all of these issues are keeping our clients and peers awake at night.
In this post, we explore the extent to which these multifaceted challenges can be overcome and the proactive measures that the construction industry can take to achieve success in these challenging economic times.
In order to create the designs and infrastructure of the future, the talent that we recruit today needs to be equipped with sustainability-focused skills. They must have a deep knowledge of sustainable design, be able to plan for and effectively integrate renewable energy sources and be strong advocates for the environment, reducing wastage in the supply chain, seeking out innovative solutions for streamlining processes, and continually looking for ways to reduce the carbon emissions produced by construction projects.
Though new entrants are certainly more environmentally conscious than the generations that have gone before them, they often lack the practical experience that is necessary to determine with confidence the likelihood of success that their proposals will deliver.
For this reason, addressing the green skills shortage requires that existing talent be given the opportunity to upskill, to expand their knowledge and to develop new skills and techniques, whilst in parallel seeking to recruit new candidates that possess transferable green skills.
Adapting to new technology
Technology is reshaping the way that we live and can deliver significant business benefits, not only in reducing product wastage and costs but in developing more efficient processes, stress-testing new designs in a virtual environment and increasing productivity on site.
In order to truly exploit the benefits that next-gen construction and project management technologies can offer, it is essential that we have a skilled workforce that understands and can effectively implement these technologies. Recruitment activity must be targeted to secure the talent that is necessary to make the best use of the technology that is available and to enable a seamless transition to more sustainable and tech-driven working practices.
Navigating changing rules and regulations
Regulatory frameworks have long governed the way in which the construction industry conducts its daily activities, but as we continue to be driven towards the achievement of environmental targets, the evolving landscape brings with it a new set of rules with which we must comply.
New environmental standards, energy efficiency requirements and waste reduction mandates challenge existing ways of working, while failure to comply attracts financial and legal penalties as well as reputational damage. There is no option but to embrace the future and look for opportunities to incorporate sustainability practices into everyday procedures and to do this effectively requires a dedicated pool of skilled workers.
Where construction firms do not already possess staff whose focus is on maintaining regulatory compliance, they may wish to recruit professionals who possess a comprehensive understanding of green building codes, sustainable construction materials, renewable energy sources and resilient logistics processes. There may be value in collaborating and maintaining an independent source of such regulatory compliance data and best practice which could then be available to a multitude of organisations.
The benefits of diversity
The skills discussed in this blog are not traditional construction skills, but they are essential to navigating the changing political and economic landscape that the future heralds. Also essential is overcoming the perception that the industry has of being male-dominated and chauvinistic.
It is crucial that more is done to attract candidates from a wide range of backgrounds and that the 278 different job roles that exist within the construction industry are promoted to educational facilities and professional networking platforms in order to attract a more diverse range of applicants.
With diversity comes opportunity so by creating and nurturing an inclusive working environment, it will be possible to effectively navigate the complexities that sustainability will continue to challenge us with.
As the construction industry continues to adapt its ways of working to deliver the sustainable infrastructure of the future, recruitment strategies, too, must evolve. It is vital that we look for opportunities to grow the construction workforce, maintaining the traditional skills and sharing knowledge and experience while attracting candidates with green skills and technological know-how to future-proof our businesses.