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How to bridge the gap in skills in the construction industry?

A new survey was conducted by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) which reveals that the employers and companies are concerned about their ability to recruit people in the future. The Right Combination, CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey 2016 was published in July 2016. The results were shocking; they revealed that 69% of the respondents feel that the skilled personnel and staff will not be available. The concerns of the organizations were related to their worries related to not being able to find enough skilled personnel and workers to fill the positions which require high and intermediate both skill levels. The survey was conducted between the time period of April 2016 to May 2016 and it included around 500 different companies of different sizes. The most popular of the respondents to the survey were from the manufacturing, engineering and construction sectors. The respondents also varied in ranks and around one third of them (31%) were Senior Management Executives (SMEs). The survey encompassed a variety of factors ranging from thoughts on business graduates, preparations for school leavers, worries regarding skilled workers and apprenticeships. The concern regarding the skilled workers was primarily that there is dearth of skilled persons and around 77% of employers stated that the next few years will bring more job vacancies but will require high skill levels. Indeed, the situation is critical regarding the less number of skilled personnel but there are measures which can be taken in order to prevent the problems that it would bring in the future. This article discusses the recruitment in the construction industry and how can the gap be bridged.

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Josh Hardie, Deputy Director-General of CBI, accepts the skills shortage is “already biting” but believes there is a commitment to preventing it.

He said: “Skills have always been a vital currency and this is particularly pertinent as the UK carves out a new economic role in the world and beings the process of leaving the European Union.

“The rapid technological transformations affecting our jobs and workplaces make skills ever more critical – when someone enters the workforce and throughout their career.

“Shortages are set to grow and their impact is already biting. This is particularly acute in some sectors and at higher levels where they are acting as a brake on growth.

Construction fears

This is certainly the case for construction employers. Many respondents from this industry anticipate demand for people with higher skills to increase hugely. Of those in construction who responded, 89% think this will be the case, while 80% expect an increase in demand for workers with intermediate skills.

These fears are no surprise, according to construction recruitment agency Right 4 Site Ltd, whose Director Mark Hudson, said the industry was one of the first into, and last to leave the recession – a five-year spell that saw school leavers look at other careers. The shortage has been worsened because the recession also resulted in experienced skilled workers leaving the industry.

He said: “We are now suffering from this as there is a void of trained and skilled workers.”

How can employers and recruiters respond?

Accentuate other positives of working at your company

Construction employers often rely on recruitment agencies to find them the most suitable staff for vacancies, but can agencies help companies bridge the existing gap between lack of skilled workers and the demand for these?

Right 4 Site believe the current level of supply and demand in the industry is making it harder to recruit workers for higher skilled positions because these candidates are in a position where they can “auction” themselves to the employer who will pay the most.

It is not an easy problem to navigate around but Mark Hudson says agencies need to be proactive in marketing their clients’ vacancies, rather than only getting employers to increase the pay they offer.

Author: John Train

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