Increasing levels of gender diversity, widening talent pipelines and improving the wider public image of the sector will help to tackle the ongoing skills shortages plaguing the construction industry, according to One Way.

An analysis by the leading construction and rail consultancy has revealed that the skills shortages can only be tackled by employers being proactive and going above and beyond the call of duty. This comes at a time when estimates suggest that 27,000 projects will suffer from a lack of suitably skilled and qualified workers over the next five years.

Paul Payne, managing director of One Way, comments on the required approaches:

Improve gender diversity

“It’s downright negligent to almost rule out half of the workforce from working in the industry, but that’s essentially what is happening. We don’t need to go over-the-top, but considering how we could make the sector that bit more inclusive would make a huge difference. No other mainstream industry suffers from such a colossal lack of diversity and it’s certainly a major factor contributing to the skills shortages. We have launched our #GirlsAllowed programme and we’d urge more firms to consider similar approaches.”

Promote a better image of the industry to the public

“How many people outside of the field realistically know the potential that a construction career holds? In reality, it’s very few. The main stereotype is that a job in the sector means being cold and muddy and standing outside digging a ditch somewhere. That needs to change. The skills of quantity surveyors, for example, are similar to those of an accountant, and rather than being handcuffed to a desk for the rest of your career, they have the chance to work on major infrastructure or construction projects. Unfortunately, nowhere near enough people outside of the sector know about this.”

Widen talent pipelines into construction

“This can only be achieved by improving the wider image of the industry as, currently, few youngsters actively seek out a career in construction. To solve this, firms need to be proactive, get into schools and colleges and actually speak to children about the potential a career in the field holds. The alternative is to rest on our laurels and continue to do very little, which will only lead to the construction industry in this country falling apart.”

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