Shortage of Construction Skills may cause stagnation in industry


Shortage of Construction Skills may cause stagnation in industry

A whitepaper published by The Future of Construction, a collaboration between Pagabo and The 55 Group, has revealed that industry leaders believe that the sector faces stagnation if it does not plug the construction skills gap and collaborate


The results and opinions from the Collaboration Transformation whitepaper focus on the widening construction skills gap and how little is being done to attract and retain talent in the construction industry.


The Collaboration Transformation whitepaper also discusses the need for the sector’s ‘black box moment’, referring to the black box that transformed and generated a huge reset in the aviation industry.

The whitepaper revealed that the construction industry’s ‘black box’ was a digital platform based on the principle of data-sharing, with 84% backing the idea.

The system would be cloud-based and underpinned by a community working collaboratively to prompt better efficiency, safety and sustainability – and promote the sector as a desirable career outlet.


Gerard Toplass, group CEO at The 55 Group, said: “Structural changes in the labour market from factors like Brexit, Covid, and the changing motivations of workers are all making recruitment tough, but for 92% of firms within the construction industry reporting this it poses a real risk to the sector at large.


“Construction is suffering similar problems to other sectors, but those other industries are better focused on training and realise the importance of improved education and practical training. And most importantly, other industries are making sure their training keeps pace with innovation.


“Meanwhile, we believe that construction is heading towards a cliff edge – especially when it comes to adapting the approach to skills and training. A large proportion of workers are within ten years of retirement age, so what is going to happen if we don’t backfill these roles? And what happens if we don’t successfully plug the skills gap?


“The simple answer is that the industry will grind to a halt. It is crucial that we work to change the approach to training to ensure we attract both the people needed to tackle modern issues – and deliver the key skills in a better way – to make sure this does not happen.


“Qualifications need to be shorter, punchier, and aligned to the changing needs of the sector, as well as those of the individuals expected to learn. Training in construction is simply not keeping up with the pace of change, which is seeing increased digitisation and innovation, and a drive to meet net zero carbon.”


Lord Bob Kerslake, group strategic adviser to The 55 Group and former head of the civil service, has backed the white paper’s findings. He said: “The skills gap issue threatens to be a major barrier on delivery in construction and is a major barrier to growth. As an industry, we must understand what we can do together to tackle these major challenges.


“We are at a pivotal moment – and we urgently need to address the need for cross-industry data sharing and a combined approach to the skills gap, both of which present the biggest challenges to development and growth.


“This white paper gives a very valuable contribution to the debate, and I hope that people within the industry consider it – as well as the relevant people in government.”


Charley Wainwright, head of innovation at Pagabo, added: “Taking inspiration from the impact the invention of the black box had on aviation, we want to inspire a complete industry transformation. We want to take us to a culture of sharing and true collaboration and remove siloed efforts and any semblance of a blame culture – which is something many surveyed noted about the culture around health and safety.


“This survey and white paper have been illuminating – and certainly not all doom and gloom. There is a clear pride that comes through regarding what the UK’s construction industry has and is capable of achieving, along with a clear determination to steer us away from the metaphorical cliff edge. The time is here to seize the opportunity before us and start effecting real and long-lasting change.”


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