How Can We Nurture Young Talent in the Construction Industry?
Why We Need to Engage Young People
Talk to any construction industry recruiter today and they’ll want to discuss the urgent need to nurture young talent. A report issued by City & Guilds in 2018 revealed that 87% of employers in the industry are presently facing a shortage of skilled workers. Current supply is over reliant on the overseas workforce, and Brexit has highlighted the need for a more home-grown approach.
As a niche recruiter to the Building Envelope sector of the construction industry, I’m aware of the problems facing British employers. At present the skills are available, but 30% of the present workforce is over 50. This is obviously unsustainable and there are concerns that we are looking at severe skills shortages as they approach retirement. The industry is also keenly aware that it lags behind on attracting and retaining young women as construction workers.
Growing a Generation of Talent
The Construction Skills Network Report 2018-2022, published in 2018, presented an upbeat forecast for the industry, with 150,000 construction jobs predicted by 2022. It seems that – despite the uncertainty around Brexit – this is an industry that has a bright future. There can surely be no question, therefore, regarding the need to invest in building a talented generation to drive it.
Branding the Construction Industry for Success
In an earlier blog on the recruitment of women into the construction industry, I raised concerns about the ‘image problem’ which is one of the factors cited as a barrier to engagement. But the problem isn’t confined to women. Young people tend to consider the industry as ‘old fashioned’, ‘male dominated’, and ‘limited’ when it comes to career progression. There’s obviously a job to be done to rebrand construction for a new generation.
We all Have a Part to Play in Rebranding
It’s all too easy to place the burden of re-branding the industry on educators. There are numerous passionate advocates in schools but they can’t do the job alone. We all have our part to play in inspiring young people to become apprentices, or take relevant degrees.
- Employers – can demonstrate the kind of progression, the salaries, and the diverse roles available to young people prepared to commit to a career in construction.
- Women in Construction – can make themselves visible to young women who may feel anxious about taking the leap. Mentoring young women in the workplace is an excellent way to nurture talent that might otherwise fall by the wayside.
- Exemplars – hearing stories from people who’ve made it in the industry is a great way to recruit young people. They need to know what’s possible, whether you begin as a labourer, go to university, or choose the apprenticeship route.
Talking the Construction Industry Up
At ZAC Recruitment I spend a good part of each day talking to new candidates. I’m always excited to find out what motivates them, what new challenges they’re seeking, and how they see their career progressing. Once I know these things I can work towards creating a perfect match for them, with an employer that will provide the professional environment for them to grow in their career.
I look forward to seeing the next generation of skilled designers, project managers, installers, and estimators emerge to play their part in rebranding the construction industry from within.