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The construction industry: skilled worker shortages

Could the construction industry crumble?

Currently, there are a staggering 45,000 job vacancies in the construction industry across the UK. This represents as much as 3.6% of all open job vacancies in the country. We’re looking at why we think this gap exists, how the industry is combatting these issues.

Why does this gap exist?

Construction Industry News published a range of statistics indicating why fewer young people see the construction industry as a career choice.

As little as 6% were interested in pursuing a career in construction. This is a significantly low percentage compared to the amount of work available, indicating that a serious shortage could continue.

34% felt that they lacked the necessary skills to be able to apply for relevant jobs. With the current guidelines, a requirement for apprenticeships is a minimum standard of English and Maths. There is an identified lack of awareness of what the relevant requirements are to enter the industry.

Another significant reason could be that 28% of young people said they felt that they lacked knowledge about the various careers available. Using our years of experience within the industry and discussions with tradespeople, we think this could be due to the construction industry potentially not being highlighted as much in schools compared to other careers, as well as the industry being generally perceived to be  a lower income career choice.

How is the industry tackling the issue?

A number of organisations within the construction industry are promoting schemes, courses and opportunities to help bridge the employment gap.

The UK’s largest builders’ merchant, Travis Perkins, is offering an apprenticeship scheme to help  open the door to younger workers who are either at college or of school leaving age. This particular scheme offers over 40 programmes; with over 1,000 apprentices involved, it holds a high pass rate of 99%.

Within the construction industry, there are various employment gaps which can be plugged through upskilling the existing workforce. A great example is Timber Development UK having launched their Timber Skills Action Plan to help achieve a net-zero target in the construction. This plan will allow workers to develop the necessary skills to work more extensively with timber and incorporate it into more of their building projects. Working with timber has become somewhat of a lost art, yet as when sourced responsibly, its usage can help achieve highly sustainable performance values.This type of skill-building initiative allows individuals to meet the evolving needs across the industry.

From 1st April 2023, the previous general operative rate of £10.26 an hour has increased to £10.42 an hour, in line with the national minimum wage. Although this wage increase is significantly minor, it is a step in the right direction, and a further increase is expected later this year.

Brexit caused a number of European workers to return to the EU, so, in March 2023 it was announced that a special immigration status will be available to builders. With this in place, the industry is hopeful that a large number of European labourers will return to the UK, helping to address the current shortage.

While the industry has all these activities going on and apprenticeships are the number one way to engage and educate newcomers, but are you coming up short?

More than ever, younger generations are spending their time on social media channels such as Instagram and Facebook, so why not show them what you have to offer on these platforms? This is one of the key ways to share your message to school leavers to prompt them to consider entering the industry.

A well-thought-out social media strategy goes a long way to increase brand profile resulting in attracting the right applicants. Your organisation could flourish with new, younger workers ready to kickstart their careers with you.

The skills shortage has major implications including further slow down on house and home building which is already struggling to keep up, limited domestic and commercial upgrade work required to reduce carbon emissions, as well as further wait times on repairs.

Addressing perceptions of the career opportunity and attracting more interest in the whole spectrum of opportunity across building and construction generally, is a crucial responsibility for all major players.  

If you’re looking to attract apprentices or employees and need help with the communications and marketing for  your brand this year, speak to an agency that understands your industry and get in contact with Rachel Arquati to find out how the Clear B2B team can help you.

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