With Brexit remaining at a standstill after Theresa May’s crushing defeat, the future of the construction industry is also very much up in the air. The UK has relied heavily on the proficiency of overseas workers to plug the skills gap in this sector which continues to be inundated with residential and infrastructural projects. The UK population is anticipated to expand by 3.6 million (5.5%) over the next decade and the construction workforce will continue to experience an increased demand for their expertise.
The Landscape For Construction Workers
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also highlight that the construction industry is struggling to attract young UK-born workers which is resulting in an ageing industry. In 2011, it was estimated that one in every five UK-born construction workers were aged over 55, meaning that by 2021, those individuals will be on the cusp of retirement age.
This has highlighted a significant recruitment and training deficiency as well as a lack of investment that has been rooted in the industry, even before the fractious divide of the referendum. While the government attempts to provide the public with answers, they have failed to guarantee the construction sector that they will have access to the EU talent pool that has served our island nation for centuries. It is therefore paramount that homegrown companies provide reassurance and necessary financial support to existing EU workers as this time of great uncertainty.
Whatever the impact of Brexit (when and if it is eventually delivered), it is imperative that these workforce shortfalls are anchored and re-evaluated so that this skills void can be bridged over the longer-term. James Bryce, head of strategic workforce planning at Arcadis has affirmed that greater action needs to be taken in researching modern methods of construction and diverting its profits into training and development. This would undoubtedly help relieve some of the concern in relation to the recruitment of the 400,000 plus workers that the industry requires each year to deliver on the UK’s housing and infrastructure needs.
How To Help The Construction Industry Post-Brexit
It is critical that native organisations and professionals engage in different training methods to keep up to date with the innovative changes and cutting-edge technology now commonplace for the likes of builders, masons and plumbers.
An effective solution for this fast-moving environment could be a strategic focus on Continuous Professional Development (CPD). This would consist of creating a diverse workforce by delivering substantial backing for this trusted self-driven style of learning. Professionals create a portfolio documenting their progress and constantly review the skills, experience and knowledge that they have learned both during and outside of working hours.
Evidence of CPD is an attractive proposition for potential employers as they are taking on a reputable and motivated individual which gives them the opportunity to position themselves as experts in their field.
Construction professionals and those aspiring to engineer a move into this industry can benefit from thousands of institutes and professional bodies offering different processes for learning, including seminars, ideas sharing, training workshops and events. This accredited learning in construction acts as testament for a worker’s commitment to the industry along with their ambition. It can also future-proof their company by strengthening working relationships through the communication of key industry messages and practices.
Regardless of a soft or hard Brexit, the construction industry must be prepared to take a short-term hit in return for long-term stability by implementing a culture that values internal progression. Providing this stimulus to staff will actively increase their understanding of the industry and encourage them to adapt to new policies and procedures in the constantly evolving sphere of construction.
CPD could yet prove to be the catalyst that moves the construction monopoly into the 21st century and alleviate any fears of a national skills shortage for years to come. Please visit the Construction CPD Industry Hub for more relevant information, courses and upcoming events.