With both the pandemic and Brexit hitting the construction industry hard, it’s no wonder the industry is facing challenges. Within the sector we can see the ongoing impact, including site build times and material and labour shortages. There’s also the concern about the delivery of materials due to the low number of HGV drivers, as well as the skill level of workers available to deliver projects, and here BOSS Training look at some possible solutions to the issues being faced.
There were reports during 2019 that Brexit would be the cause of a skilled worker shortages in the UK. However, no one foresaw the pandemic and the huge impact it would have on the industry. Taking into consideration both factors, this year has been one for shortages across the board.
The latest employment statistics suggest that Brexit isn’t the main cause of worker shortages. It’s a surge in demand for workers that is driving the fall in supply. Vacancies in the construction industry have risen by 39% in the first half of 2021, while the number of applications dropped by 23%.
The impact of losing these workers is hitting all aspects of construction, with The Federation of Master Builders finding that, in the last quarter, 60% of building firms have had to pause projects due to a lack of skilled tradespeople and that 42% of firms can’t get hold of general labourers. A staggering 89% of builders have faced delays due to either materials or skills shortages.
Ageing workforces and poor quality training
Of course, Brexit and the pandemic can’t be blamed for all aspects of the skills shortage, since this issue already existed beforehand. There’s no denying that Britain and the construction industry have an ageing workforce. Couple that with the poor quality of training available and the rise in subcontracting, and it’s no wonder we’re facing these shortages.
The Office for National Statistics reported in May 2021 that there were 2.22m workers in the construction industry during the first quarter of 2021, which is 100,000 fewer than in the same period last year. The industry needs to invest heavily in high quality training to a younger market to ensure the future of British construction.
“It has been a very interesting year for the construction industry,” explains Thomas Burwell, Head of Sales and Operations at BOSS Training. “In some ways it is booming but many of the challenges facing businesses in the sector are worsening. The effects of staff shortages are clear and it is putting more strain on existing staff, leading to delays in project delivery. It can be hard to find the time to upskill staff but through brave forward planning and utilising moments of down time, businesses can make themselves more robust to the further challenges they will face in 2022.”
What can your business do?
As a business owner in the construction industry, you should be focusing on upskilling your existing workers. Giving your workers the skills to succeed with their role and take on more responsibility.
It is vital to have an adaptable workforce, by having staff with a varied skillset it allows you to move and shift with changing demands. They will be able to shift into different roles and jobs depending on the site need. Identify your skill shortages and look at training courses that may benefit other workers to fill that gap. The sort of course that could benefit staff include Plant Training such as Telehandler or excavator, UKATA Non-Licensed Removal, CITB SSSTS, Vehicle Banksman amongst others. Identify your skill shortages and look at training courses that may benefit other workers to fill that gap.
Upskilling your workforce digitally
One of the good things the pandemic did create was a rise in online training courses. These courses mean that businesses don’t need to account for too much time away for their staff from their day-to-day role, as employees can quickly access the courses. In addition, workers can access training from the comfort of their own home, which can help them learn faster or better.
Digital training courses are also preferred over in-person training by younger employees, which is the demographic many businesses want to target, due to an ageing population and workforce. Everyone learns differently, which is why we can help you to train and upskill both younger or older demographics with our large variety of courses and ways to train.
Improving the skills on offer from your existing workforce means an improvement in the services you can provide, an engaged workforce who sticks by your company, a reduced cost from recruitment and an increase in productivity and efficiency. With many construction businesses struggling to provide the services required to get work completed, you could be at the forefront of your sector by providing the skills required.
Boss Training offer health and safety courses online for all aspects of a role. Its online training courses cover everything from CDM Awareness to infection control, manual handling and preparation for the CITB Health, Safety and Environment Test.
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