Lafarge Tarmac’s Bill Price latest blog for BMJ
As construction activity picks up after a (rather too long!) slumber through the recession, the opportunities for skilled construction works are expanding rapidly. The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) estimates that over 180,000 new jobs will be created in the next 5 years, perhaps a greater rate of job creation than in any other sector.
But, for every silver lining there always seems to be a cloud, and many employers are now becoming worried that a shortage of skilled construction workers may act as brake on continued recovery. As with many sectors, a downturn in work of the scale seen since 2008 has prompted many firms, understandably, to downsize rapidly and cut back on training. Unfortunately, when the upturn came, many former staff had left the industry or were not keeping their training and skills levels sufficiently up to date. This can lead to frustration that new opportunities cannot be converted into new work.
Acquiring high level building or construction skills does not happen overnight, of course, and investing in people is a key factor in successfully riding the wave of increased activity. Enlightened organisations are already wisely investing in apprenticeships and training schemes (a few had never stopped), equipping themselves with the skilled workforce need to take advantage of market conditions.
A career in building and construction is also beginning to look increasingly attractive for a new generation of young people (and the industry has always relied on a mix of youth and experience). If the CITB predictions are to be believed, a prosperous future may await new recruits.
Just as merchants need to be prepared for an increase in the demand for materials and equipment, builders themselves must put in the groundwork to ensure that they have access to a growing pool of skilled and enthusiastic staff.