Stretching back decades, recruiting and retaining a sufficient talent pool has been one of the key challenges for the construction and built environment (CBE) sector. But if that has been the case for some time, the urgency is even more acute today.
The challenge of finding and training the next generation of construction workers is one that must be taken on without delay. CITB’s latest Construction Skills Network (CSN) report shows that the industry will need 36,000 new recruits per year from 2017 to 2021.
In some specialist occupations the need for new workers remains acute, particularly wood trades and interior fit out. There is also the ongoing challenge of replacing an ageing workforce, which will become more pressing if Brexit stems the flow of mainly younger workers from abroad.
At the same time, an industry that is committed to innovate and modernise has the opportunity to set out a compelling vision to the more diverse and skilled intake it needs to attract if it is to realise this vision. Currently, as is well known, construction attracts too few women and ethnic minorities, which means it is not making the most of a much vaster pool of talent. Across the sector, 86% of the workforce is male, while 94% describe themselves as white.
The lack of diversity feeds into an image problem for the CBE sector. There is a perception that apprenticeships are a less favourable option for the most able students: research has shown 92% of parents think apprenticeships are a good option, but only 32% would want their son or daughter to take one. This creates a vicious circle, whereby inability to recruit from the widest possible cross section of society feeds back into the sector’s projection of an outdated and unattractive image.
CITB will continue to work in partnership with construction employers to help people find jobs and work experience, and address the reasons for people leaving work or apprenticeships early.
This executive summary brings together three related pieces of research on:
• The value vocational qualifications offer to both individuals and employers in construction
• What happens to those leaving FE after completing a construction related course, and how many end up working in the sector
• The reasons people leave construction jobs or apprenticeships early.