In February this year, the No More Lost Generations cross-party report was published. It only looked at the construction sector, but the issues raised cut across most sectors involved with physical work. The statistics quoted demonstrate how poorly served the sector is by “business as usual”:
- 182,000 construction jobs to be filled by 2018
- Just 7,280 completed a construction apprenticeship in 2013 (half the figure for 2008)
- Around 10% of construction sector employees are under the age of 24.
- In the latest survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, 36% of surveyors said that labour shortages were restricting building, particularly in trades connected to the housing sector, including bricklaying.
- Earlier research from the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) stated that 82% of construction professionals who took part highlighted the lack of skilled domestic construction personnel as an issue.
- The industry needs to restock with skilled people to replace those that are retiring. Construction has an ageing workforce, with 450,000 expected to retire over the next 10 years.
We could go on. The report admits that there isn’t a simple answer, as we have noted in other posts in this blog. The past years have trained businesses to look to government to train people rather than train themselves as they used to; when recruiting businesses are making the selection criteria very restrictive; in the construction sector in particular, there are many businesses who are effctively sole traders who act together as informal businesses for specific projects; these businesses are very fearful of employment law and consequently tend to stay as sole traders, which reduces employment opportunity.
The set of strategies proposed are:
- We have to improve an understanding in schools of the exciting and varied opportunities for those who want a career in construction, from traditional crafts, to management, to computerbased modelling.
- We have to make it easier for young people to find an appropriate route into the industry, whether through apprenticeships or degree-level qualifications.
- We need to ensure that training programmes are better linked to the nature of the jobs that are likely to be available and to reduce the dropout rate from apprenticeships and other training courses.
- We have to use the levers available through public-sector procurement and the planning system to require realistic and effective training and employment commitments from employers. But raising aspirations will need committed support from Government, social landlords and local authorities too. Although
local authorities and social landlords are increasingly using these levers to push for training, success is patchy.
- We need to secure much greater commitment and buy-in from industry leaders
in securing the step change that is needed to help young people secure worthwhile employment in construction, and in doing so lay the foundations for a sustainable and modern industry.
Archomai and its partners, especially Preston Road NDC, Grimsby Institute Group and Simultech Scotland, through the EAC and HSCBC projects will provide innovative and collaborative solutions to some of these strategies. The use of industry standard training simulators is key to raising awareness, aspirations and providing high quality, cost effective training programmes. They provide a realistic experience of the equipment used in construction – cranes, dumpers, excavators, etc. – that excites young people while providing the physical and digital feedback that is essential for high quality training programmes for cross training experienced people.