Construction professionals have stressed how despite the fallout following Brexit, we must focus our efforts on combatting the looming skills crisis by prioritising the introduction of new initiatives to attract workers into the various sectors that span the construction industry.

Thinking ahead

Chris Wood, CEO of Develop Training Limited, the UK’s leading training specialist in the utilities sector, commented “The skills shortage in the UK is a catastrophe waiting to happen, one that literally threatens to turn out Britain’s lights. A solution to the twin problems of a chronic skills shortage in our utilities industry and high youth unemployment is obvious – train young people to take the places of the ageing workforce, but it just isn’t happening at anything like the rate that it needs to be. The new PM and her Cabinet must make it a government priority to look into ways to correct this issue as a matter of extreme urgency.

“As householders and businesses in the UK wonder about a post-Brexit future, they should remember that the utilities sector is still facing a potentially devastating skills shortage. The sector is constantly on a recruitment drive but is simply not receiving the response it requires.

“We all need confidence that our lights will stay on, our heating will continue to keep our houses warm and our taps keep providing running water, but the day is fast approaching when there will simply not be enough workers to do these vital jobs.”

Home-grown talent

Brian Berry of the Federation of Master Builders has also echoed concerns post-Brexit regarding the retention of skilled EU workers and the training of new talent. Berry said “We need to ensure that we invest in our own home-grown talent through apprenticeship training. We need to train more construction apprentices so we are not overly reliant on migrant workers from Europe or further afield. That’s why it’s so important that the Government gets the funding framework right for apprenticeships – when you consider that this whole policy area is currently in flux, and then you add Brexit into the mix, it’s no exaggeration to say that a few wrong moves by the Government could result in the skills crisis becoming a skills catastrophe. The next few years will bring unprecedented challenges to the construction and house building sector, and it’s only through close collaboration between the Government and industry that we’ll be able to overcome them.”

Diversity

Skanska, who recently won the Judges’ Supreme Award and Diversity Champion of the Year Award, have suggested that we need ensure the culture of our industry is both inviting and nurturing in order to alleviate the shortage long-term.

Mike Putnam, President and CEO Skanska UK, said “We believe that a diverse and inclusive culture is key to creating a successful and sustainable business. It will help us to create teams where people think differently, while making them better placed to understand the needs of the communities in which we work.

“It is through the way that our people embrace diversity and create an open and welcoming environment that we are able to work collaboratively – with our customers, joint venture and supply chain partners.”

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