Blog

Attracting homegrown talent to the construction industry

25/10/2019

Why public and private sector collaboration to promote apprenticeships is critical for the future.

Until now, the UK labour market had held up well amidst the political and economic uncertainty that Brexit has brought. However, now construction employment is suffering as the uncertainty intensifies and we edge towards Britain’s scheduled departure from the EU on October 31.

Earlier this month, the latest CIPS/Markit construction PMI indicated that the fall in construction staffing levels was the sixth in as many months and the strongest since the end of 2010.

Construction recruiter Randstad has echoed these findings, claiming that although ordinarily the three summer months of June, July, and August usually see approximately 30% of all permanent annual recruitment jobs filled in the construction sector, this year the summer made up just 16% of its previous 12 months’ recruitment placements, as projects are put on hold or work slowed. As work temporarily dries up, EU construction workers may be even more inclined to head home. This will make it harder to ramp construction efforts back up again post-Brexit.

The industry has shown a great deal of resilience to date but will fall at the final hurdle unless we take action now.

Mark Robinson
Group Chief Executive

Starting my career as an apprentice myself, I recognised at a very early age that training and development are critical to success in any industry, and it cemented to me the importance of engaging with the next generation of workers.

It’s now more important than ever that we attract and retain home-grown talent in the sector and proactive steps are taken to overhaul construction training and education within the UK. Only then can we be confident that we have the right people with the right skill set to continue delivering quality projects.

The public sector also plays an important role in boosting apprenticeship take-up and both the public and private sectors must work together to promote apprenticeships and help bridge the gap.

Money invested in new buildings should create a wider social impact, not only by enriching communities and getting the best value for the taxpayer, but also engaging with local SMEs, upskilling and training the next generation of local workers. Frameworks provide wider benefits beyond time and cost savings; they include key performance indicators relating to skills, training and development. For example, to date, more than 43,000 apprenticeship weeks have been delivered by our national network of delivery partners.

In collaboration with our partner Balfour Beatty and supplier Learn Live, we also regularly host virtual and interactive construction LIVE events, as part of our ongoing efforts to inspire young people to consider a career in the industry. Through these events, pupils can join live panel discussions with our employees, virtually ‘meet’ graduates and apprentices and ask questions throughout the interactive broadcast. So far this has enabled us to engage with over 100,000 young people across the UK.

Next month, the government is due to release details of its new infrastructure strategy, which should create a step-change in infrastructure investment across the country. To meet increasing demand, the government must commit to a robust strategy that will ensure momentum on big-ticket infrastructure projects is maintained and that will attract sustainable levels of talented people for our industry’s future. This way, we can ensure we have a strong and dynamic workforce that will help drive forward projects that enrich communities and the wider economy.

Written by:

Mark Robinson

Group Chief Executive
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