The construction skill gap: what can we do to help?


Skills shortages continue to challenge our construction industry, holding back important building work just at the time when the country needs more homes and infrastructure.

So what needs to change in order to recruit young, diverse people to the industry?

We need to widen the talent pool for our sector to thrive. However, attracting a more diverse workforce isn’t easy, but it’s vital.

Ian Williams, one of the UK’s leading property services companies, is a really great example of our industry moving forward in the right direction.

Trainee surveyors are crucial to the future of our industry and the programme Ian Williams offers to new entrants is second to none.  By offering a varied scheme, they are attracting a greater diversity of applicants who bring with them a significant skill base and a confidence to learn.

This year Ian Williams recruited 15 trainee quantity surveyors to help inject more talent and skills to our sector.  To date, 14 trainees have been offered permanent positions and will start the Trainee Surveyor Scheme in August.

How does the scheme work?

The trainees have a great deal of responsibility from the beginning. The scheme splits between on the job training and working on live projects learning all the vital skills needed for a future in the growing construction sector.

The trainees follow the programme for three or four years and on completion will be promoted to fully-fledged surveyors, with many progressing into management roles.

Why is it important?

The construction sector has faced a range of uncertainties in 2017 which have led to a national focus on the industry skills gap and employment challenges.

According to the CITB’s latest Construction Skills Report (CSN) construction output is expected to grow by 1.3% over the next five years, with 158,000 jobs to be created to meet projected requirements.

960 surveyors are currently in demand in the UK, highlighting the important targets our sector needs to achieve.

Sian Pearce, Training and Development Manager at Ian Williams, said: “I’m delighted that our programme provides support and guidance to so many talented people, giving them the skills and experience needed to thrive within the construction industry.

“Continually pushes me to learn new skills”

“We are very passionate about people and believe that our success will only be maintained if we continue to offer trainees a great place to work and support them in enhancing their skills.”

CITB spoke to Gurjeet Sandhu, a trainee surveyor at Ian Williams, about his experience on the programme.

Gurjeet said:  “From day one I was made welcome by everyone and it was clear the scheme was geared to help me learn and develop within the business.

“The trainee programme was great as it gave me a clear development path to follow. I was offered bespoke support from my mentor and peers so I always had people I could ask for advice and help. It’s perfect for someone who is new to the business as it allows you to gain on the job experience.

“I feel the trainee surveyor programme has given me all the guidance I need and continually pushes me to learn new skills.”

If you want to find out more about training and recruiting apprentices, CITB have a dedicated team ready to offer help and advice. Please visit www.citb.co.uk/find-an-apprentice.

To find out more and apply to Ian Williams’ trainee surveyor and apprentice schemes please visit www.ianwilliams.co.uk

About the author

Catherine Bullough is CITB's Partnership Manager for the South Central and South West of England

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