by Andy Robinson, Managing Director at Colmore Tang Construction
With a huge shortfall of skilled tradespeople and with no aspirational lead to encourage talent into the business, how does the Government propose we’ll deliver its target of one million new homes by 2020?
The industry needs to change its image. It needs to be portrayed in a positive light in a bid to encourage more people to train and join. We need introduce higher calibre people at coal face level, more self-starters and more motivation. Attitudes on site can be poor and the perception of the industry is preventing it from attracting a whole new generation of skilled tradespeople who will be the builders of the future.
Construction needs an X Factorisation.
We need to recreate the success that Jaguar Land Rover has seen in encouraging school leavers to pursue a career in engineering. It has used its weight to make engineering sexy again, and to encourage young people into the industry, including schemes to encourage women into engineering. We need an organisation and an aspirational leader to do this for construction.
So are we doing enough about this?
While large contractors take some responsibility for helping to improve this image, smaller ones do not have the scale or budget to carry out campaigns of this size. The CITB, which is meant to be engaging with education to improve the image of construction, appears from the outside to be in disarray and should be working harder to support all of its members, no matter what the size.
With 30% of our skilled workers due to retire in the next decade, what are our choices if we can’t bring in the trades that we need? Do we turn to off site manufacturing to reduce our reliance on subcontracted labour?
The industry needs a media spotlight to showcase the skills of the talented individuals that work in it, and there are genuinely lots of them. We need to highlight the very positive benefits of working in construction and the demand for skilled labour.
The Great British Bake Off had the nation glued to its screens and has seen baking become popular again, so why don’t we create a talent show with a focus on bricklaying or plastering? The Great British Brick Off or the X Plaster has a ring to it, don’t you think?
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PR by Clive Reeves PR Birmingham