Clear signs of a growing skills crisis spreading to construction managers and supervisors are revealed in a survey from the Scottish Building Federation (SBF) that shows 90% of employers struggling to find qualified staff to manage projects such as the continuing renovation of Kessock bridge on the A9 shown here.
Members of the SBF expect to increase the numbers of managers and supervisors they employ by a net 13% over the coming year.
The quarterly Scottish Construction Monitor asks SBF members to rate their confidence in the business outlook over the next year. There was a 31 point improvement in industry confidence, the fifth consecutive quarter of improving confidence and the first positive result since the series started in 2008.
Some 60% of companies looking for new staff over the past year say they have successfully developed existing staff to take on increased responsibilities. But 90% of those looking to recruit externally said they had difficulties in finding suitable candidates.
SBF Managing Director Vaughan Hart said the recruitment difficulties pointed to a growing skills shortage. ‘This could create real challenges for the industry as the recovery gathers pace,’ he said.
In another skills crisis warning Crossrail Chief Executive Andrew Wolstenholme is reported in the Times today as saying that 3,500 civil engineers and other tunnelling specialists could be lured overseas if there is no major project like HS2 to take them on once the £14,800 million Crossrail project is completed in 2018. Other major projects that would need their skills include the potential Crossrail 2, a south west to north east route across London, and the Thames Tideway sewer.
Staff were already being approached to go overseas to locations like Qatar where the 2022 football World Cup will be held. Mr Wolstenholme warned that if there were a two-year discontinuity between Crossrail’s completion and the start of the next major project, then the UK’s tunnelling capability would go overseas.