Construction Industry skills shortage is still an Issue

The Construction Industry Training Board’s Construction Skills Network Forecast predicts that employment within the construction sector will grow year on year until at least 2022. The projections suggest that we could see significant employment increases in the North West, South West and South East of England as well as double-digit growth in Wales.

Estimates also suggest that overall growth in the sector is likely to lead to 158,000 new construction-based jobs being created over the next five years. However, the current lack of skilled people raises doubts about whether these roles can be filled. It is therefore vital that more people enter the construction sector to meet these demands, especially as the UK government has set a target to build 300,000 new homes every year in the UK until 2020.

UK government has set a target to build 300,000 new homes every year in the UK until 2020

Specialist skills are needed in almost all new build, maintenance and refurbishment jobs and are therefore integral to the progression of projects. The shortage could cause repercussions for the industry. For example, low numbers of skilled personnel such as fire system installers, designers and engineers, who are key to ensuring that a building and its occupants are safe from fire, could cause delays in projects.

UK government launched a £22m Construction Skills Fund

A new government fund could help. In June this year, the UK government launched a £22m Construction Skills Fund, which aims to close the gap between training and working by enabling people to learn their trade on live construction sites. The 18-month scheme is being funded by the Department of Education and run by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

The fund will support:

  • 20 on-site training hubs
  • Work experience and placements for those looking to join the industry
  • Entry pathways for the unemployed
  • Entry pathways for those changing careers

Construction Industry

Construction Industry Training Schemes

Other initiatives, such as BuildForce, are also in place to help people move into construction-based trades. BuildForce offers members of the armed forces the mentoring and training that they need to transfer into the building sector when they leave the service. It has so far seen 100 ex-armed forces personnel take on a new role. However, with 14,000 people leaving the forces every year, there is still significant potential if the industry is promoted to these highly qualified individuals.

With workloads increasing, the skills shortage is an issue critical for the future of the industry as a whole and the wider economy. It is therefore vital that more specialist skilled workers are entering the construction industry.

If initiatives such as the Construction Skills Fund and BuildForce are successful, this would ease the current strains on construction companies by ensuring that work demands can be met and delays to projects are prevented.

As you might already be aware, FDS Group – Fire Design Solutions (FDS) and our sister company, FDS Consult – has proudly partnered with Construction United, an initiative that aims to improve public perceptions of the construction industry.

United ConstructionThroughout this year, Construction United has been focusing on three main objectives, two of which include improving the image of the sector and improving the wellbeing of its workforce.

For us here at FDS, however, the objective that interested us in particular was Construction United’s aim to address our industry’s skills gap.

The skills gap has affected the majority of us in construction. The work we do isn’t always widely recognised by the younger generation, which can make recruiting slightly more difficult.

While we have always been lucky enough to find the great talent that we need to make FDS a success, we’re aware of the struggle others in our industry have faced to fill positions within their companies.

In light of this, we’re pleased to announce that we have opened our doors to students who are keen to enter the construction industry, by giving them the opportunity to undertake work experience, showing them the wide range of roles available within the sector.

We will have work experience students working in our finance department, where they will be shadowing our financial controller, Rachel Archer. They will be helping with daily duties which include setting up payments, invoicing, using our accounts system and general admin/accounts duties. There will also be opportunities for students to work with our IT department.

We hope that by allowing students the opportunity to work with our company, whether with the fire consultants or finance department, we can show the younger generation that there’s a role for everyone in construction, whatever their academic background.

What’s more, we will also be welcoming new apprentices in the near future, providing long-term, hands on experience as well as the opportunity for development and progression within the FDS group.

As highlighted in a recent YouGov survey commissioned by Construction United, where it asked 2,000 members of the public what they thought of the construction industry, 68% of Britons described the sector as ‘strenuous’ while another 58% described it as ‘dirty’.

These statistics demonstrated to us that the perception that the public has towards our industry is that it consists mainly of labour intensive roles, forgetting about all of the other great work that goes on behind closed door.

By bringing in work experience students in a variety of roles, our aim is to show the younger generation the diverse career opportunities available within construction.