The skills shortage within the construction industry is a hot topic. A recent report by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) has suggested that offsite construction needs to develop the right skills to meet future demand. There are several barriers to solving the skills gap; existing training doesn’t include offsite content, there is a lack of awareness of current training and a shortage of qualified training providers and assessors. The full report highlights available training and identifies gaps.
One Offsite company quoted in the report stated: “the best investment is at the design phase – this is where the value is.” From our own experience, the design area is one area with is particularly suffering. Brexit is only going to exacerbate the lack of talent and will have a detrimental effect on UK businesses. There is a serious lack of training, apprenticeships and education surrounding offsite skills. No area more notable in Offsite Construction than Design.
Already the skills shortage is significant in this area and there is much competition for candidates. Over 30% of our placements within the Design sector in the last 2 years have been for non-UK nationals. The fact of the matter is there just aren’t enough designers within construction. The reason for this? It’s not just the lack of education and training, low salaries mean it just isn’t as appealing as other industries. Construction designers unjustifiably receive lower salaries than in other industries. So what happens if the supply stops? It’s a massive threat to our industry. We need to keep encouraging new designers.
So how do we do it?
The CITB report addresses the need for training and the urgent need for assessors and training providers. You could become an assessor yourself but what else can you do to ensure your design vacancies are filled?
To open up a wider pool of talent, businesses should consider being more receptive with regards to experience, transferable skills and flexible working. This will attract more candidates, allowing roles to be filled quicker. Being flexible with regards to the working environment makes businesses more appealing to candidates, it’s an extra benefit without any extra cost and gives you an edge over competitors.
Home based and flexible working are a key benefit to candidates. The family dynamic has changed in recent years, people have larger family commitments and they are looking for a better work - life balance.
Experience Vs Trainee
Concerns over hiring trainees over more experienced candidates are that they won’t be able to ‘hit the ground’ running and businesses often feel they don’t have the time or resources to invest in training. But the skills shortage means decent experienced candidates are extremely scarce. Lack of competitive salaries, lack of training investment and flexible working has led to many experienced design candidates seeking greener pastures.
It’s not a case of choosing an experienced candidate over a trainee. The opportunity to make this choice is few and far between.
Don’t be too quick to discount trainees, they bring their own values. They are open to new possibilities and technologies. You can develop them to fit the mould of your business and they will grow along with your business.
Nothing good comes without effort, what you receive is reflective of what you put in. Invest in people, train them well and they will give you years of loyal service. Your efforts won’t be wasted. They won’t want to go to a competitor –why would they?
With the industry slow to react to address these issues, there really isn’t going to be a quick fix, that means less talent, less skills, less productivity for your business - unless that is, you take action. Widen your requirements, consider candidates with transferrable skills, be flexible and see training as an investment. If you do it right you and your business will reap the benefits and you will fill your vacancies quicker! And when you do find the right candidate, act fast – you won’t be the only one wanting to snap them up.
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