Closing The Skills Gap:

Closing The Skills Gap:
NEWS FEATURES FIRE & SECURITY SUBMISSIONS RESOURCES

How To Prepare The Next Generation Of Workers For The Modern Construction Industry

By Michael Slater, Executive Operations Director – Western Thermal Limited

There is no doubt that the construction industry is going through a phenomenal change. Many workers in the sector are aging in which the total number of workers over 60 has increased more than any other age group. At the same time the total number of workers under 30 years of age has reduced more than any other group. This poses a serious threat to the industry because it is clear a wealth of knowledge and important skills are to be lost as there are not enough in line to replace them and take the industry forward. As a result, the skills gap in construction has continued to grow over time and is now at the point of causing serious issues to businesses as they cannot meet the growing demands leaving them with an urgent need to compensate for the experience they will lose. With this in mind and Brexit on the horizon, construction companies must not only help capture the knowledge they have but to also find ways to appeal to the younger generation  which  will be pivotal in bring back more balance to the skills gap.

Firstly, the UK government has taken steps to help produce and entice the next group of workers to the field. In April 2017, the apprenticeship levy scheme was launched with the promise of high-quality training and support to help them develop and increase productivity. Companies can sign up to this knowing that they too will receive support and funding to help them along the way. This particular government scheme emphasises the growing importance of apprenticeships in the industry and the benefits the training and development brings to businesses alike. This will have a number of benefits for the employer because the apprentices combined with experiences and expertise can be instrumental in delivering a more modern approach to the business as well as provide some much needed drive and innovation.

For many years, construction has been much slower in incorporating technology than other industries. This has impacted many businesses as more traditional modes of working have been considered the most effective method. However, with more complex projects, rising demand and higher workloads, technology will bring about many advantages – which are much needed. For example, in China, the introduction of 3D printing saw a number of houses produced in less than 24 hours. This never-before-seen concept has arguably changed the industry and although it is still in the early stages, the overall efficiency and economic impact are clear. This sort of technology will prove vital in the UK, especially as it aims to meet its housing targets with a growing population.  The next generation will be more aware and more adapting of this technology and will come with the skills required to not only take on these roles, but evolve and innovate them further.

Another way to address the skills gap is to inspire change in the industry by attracting more women into it. Currently, only around 11% make up the construction workforce with many put off by its male dominated culture, pay gap and career progression. This has been passed down throughout the years in education and this should be an important target to begin in encouraging women to join. This means that encouraging diversity and highlighting the opportunities construction offers can make it more appealing. By involving a diverse workforce, we will be able to provide new ways of thinking and different perspectives to help take companies into new directions instead of following the same cycle, which has held the industry back. To emphasise this further, having more women in important roles will only attract more people to get into the industry and help it flourish.

On a similar note, by encouraging construction to be seen as an academic discipline in school, many young people would be open to considering it as a career. As it is not a GCSE or A-Level, many will immediately dismiss it as a potential path or are not exposed to it, in order to fully understand it. By introducing this as part of the curriculum, the construction industry will be able to educate people on the options available to them within it. This can then encourage work experience, apprenticeships and other opportunities for a workforce to kick-start itself once again.

As the construction industry braces itself for the future, it is currently at a crossroads with itself. As society around it changes, it is clear that it needs to do the same in order to survive. With the UK set to leave the EU in March next year, even more challenges will begin to come its way as they are likely to be met with shortages in a variety of forms. By addressing the skills gap now, companies will be able to prepare, equip and train the next generation of workers to help build a successful business and industry. There are a number of options available to businesses to do this and it is up to them to take the initiative, or risk falling even further behind.

 

Closing The Skills Gap:

NEWS FEATURES FIRE & SECURITY SUBMISSIONS RESOURCES