What is to blame for the lack of skilled workers in the construction industry?

Skilled Workers

At Re-New we are lucky to be able to take our technicians on with little to no experience and take the time to train them and nurture them into true specialists in their field. But increasingly the construction industry is suffering from a lack of the skilled workers it requires. A recent study by the Scape group showed “the UK needs to recruit as many as 1 million new workers into the construction industry by 2020” they attribute this to the retirement of the so-called “baby-boomers” Generation. Whilst this is certainly a contributing factor I do not believe it is the only one.

Take the recent Brexit vote for example there are “a significant number of skilled and non-skilled roles filled by non-UK nationals” within the construction industry. The lack of immigration (which could be still yet to come) could lead to a skilled workers shortage in the construction industry and project uncertainty is already affecting certain businesses with British architecture firms Make and Sheppard Robson laying off staff in order to maintain their sustainability. The problem is that if we have a surplus of current staff competing for fewer jobs this makes the industry less appealing for new workers who are just setting out for work. Couple this with the new generation of workers who are coming through now often simplified as “Gen Z” who have different expectations about the working environment and conditions than their parents or the “Gen Y” workers who proceeded them. It is of increasing concern that the old fashioned attitudes to construction will not appeal to those workers whom the industry needs to engage with, as evidenced by Wesley Simmons 2015 Article “It’s about time we tuned in to Generation Z” the industry must adapt.

But with 19% of the construction workers set to retire in the next decade, we can assume that the construction industry has an aging population and much of this can be attributed to the culture of the Gen Y and their education. Many construction roles do not require higher education (that is not to say it is not of some benefit) but the “Generation Y” is probably the most university educated in history. The Prevalence of university education is well acknowledged with years of steady growth which statistics show has declined gradually since 2011. This means that a large proportion of the working population is university educated and it is not unreasonable to assume that after years of university education that they may have little desire to take entry level positions within the industry. This causes a skill miss-match where the construction industry requires skilled workers and people require jobs but lack the skills to do them.
Ultimately there are numerous challenges facing the construction industry and the successful companies will be those who adapt to bring in new skilled workers (through good practices and apprentice schemes) to best garner their workforce. One thing is for sure with “with 42% of public sector managers highlighting the skills shortage as one of the biggest barriers to sustainability in their supply train” they’d had better work fast.



“It’s About time we tuned in to Generation Z” http://www.constructionmanagermagazine.com/management/its-time-we-tuned-generation-z/

Sustainability in the Supply Chain <http://www.scapegroup.co.uk/research>

Statistics on Student numbers from www.hesa.ac.uk