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The industry’s skills shortage – Lots to build but no-one to build it??

skillsThe skills shortage that our industry is already suffering from (and which – from recent press coverage – is seemingly only going to get worse) is at the fore of many debates and events that will be filling our calendars.

With a growing population our housing stock needs increasing and our infrastructure needs improving, but we’re struggling for the resource to think about it, design it and then ultimately build it.

So we clearly have an issue as an industry, a burning platform that requires change, but are we doing enough?

Or is the more pertinent question why aren’t we as an industry all doing something together?

There are so many great things going on to attract more people in the industry, but it sometimes feels like we’ve got too much going on.

Typically of the disparate nature of construction we’re all in our own way making a difference, but the whole as is often the case much greater and compelling than the parts.

CIOB’s ‘No More Lost Generation’ report talks about the requirement for a step change in careers advice to make it more engaging. I think this is something too often overlooked when we discuss the skills shortage, and overlooked when we discuss how to bring young people into the industry. With around 1/3 of careers advisors advising against construction the potential talent pool becomes much smaller very quickly.

We, as an industry, need to come together and be part of a conscious effort to make parents, teachers and careers advisors aware of the excellent opportunities in the industry. The Common Gateway that will be rolled out later this year is a big step forward but the industry needs to rally behind it and use it to its full potential.

Like the Army have over the last few years we must change our image and make sure that the next generation see the industry as the industry of choice and that their parents are proud of being able to say that their children add value to the built environment.

Lets not forget, we’re a great industry, we pay well (mostly!), we’re an industry where lifelong friendships are forged, we innovate and explore new ways of doing things, and we offer new challenges throughout a persons career with great opportunities to learn and progress around every corner. Why wouldn’t a young person want to come work in construction???

On 1st July Invennt’s director Tim Fitch will be speaking at an event on the skills shortage at Smith & Williamson’s offices in Moorgate. If you’re interested in joining the skills debate please come along – register your interest here:


Ben Pritchard

Ben joined invennt from Magnox Ltd where as a Framework manager in the Nuclear Decommissioning sector he led the procurement and commercial management of a range of frameworks and projects covering demolition, new construction, refurbishment and retrieval, processing and conditioning of waste.

This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. Ben,

    I agree somewhat. Unfortunately degree qualified civil engineers in this country that is working full time on the books for a company is not well paid. Considering we study 3 to 5 years in university, the money we get is peanuts. The only way for us to make money is to work as contractors. But then contracts don;t last long especially in construction and there is no job security.

    There are many other lucrative careers in IT/Banking industry where pay is much better. Until the UK starts respecting degree qualified engineers and pay us a descent wage ( as they do in america, australia, Germany etc..) the industry will not attract many British youngsters..


    1. HI Dimuth,

      I did say mostly pay well!

      I’m not a civil engineer so I cant comment directly but I did mean much more across the board of all blue and white collar jobs. There will always be exceptions when making a broad statement like that!

      You’re right with job security and construction is very cyclical in nature and is heavily affected by the general health of the economy which doesn’t help. We have seen during the recession a lot of people leave the UK to the countries you mention among others so we need to make sure we are competitive against them in what we have to offer.

      Hopefully with the ever developing Pipeline offering long term understanding of the future of work across the UK this will help lesson the ‘shocks’ that construction will feel come the next downturn.

      I also think we shouldn’t concentrate on just the £££ but making sure that the environment we are working in is a good one, an enjoyable one and one that we’re excited to go to every day. This is something the tech industry does very well..


  2. Ben

    As the owner of a small specialist Commercial Management company there is a major barrier to companies such as mine being able to recruit and train the next generation.

    This barrier is “framework contract”. The usual suspects always win the framework contracts and get on the “preferred bidder” lists which leaves the smaller specialists out in the cold. This discourages any consultancy being able to recruit and train and all that tends to happen is the large consultancys take us on to fill their skills gaps. This then comes at a premium as the large consultancys just mark us smaller companies up by 15 -20 % and everyone loses.

    Maybe its time to encourage the smaller consultancys to invest by re thinking the outdated frameworks when resources are tight and everyone is ultimately using the same resource but at a higher cost in the current model!

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