On Air Now Overtime! 7:00pm - 10:00pm Email
Now Playing Starships Nicki Minaj

Changing attitudes will transform the industry

Posted: Tuesday, August 9th, 2022

Builders don’t like change. There are exceptions to everything of course, but for the most part the industry isn’t commonly thought of as forward looking.  

Whether it’s the sector’s track record on diversity, the need to do something – anything – about the built environment’s carbon footprint, adopting tech to boost productivity, or solving the skills deficit, whatever the challenge, the sector it seems has made little or no progress.

We’re stuck in perpetual Groundhog Day – but unlike Bill Murray, the construction sector doesn’t appear to be learning much by repeating its mistakes.

While some are happy staggering towards retirement, holding off change, external pressures are mounting, making the need for different attitudes irresistible.

We could look at any number of issues at this point, but let’s take a look at the skills crisis. Currently, the sector is looking at a shortfall of somewhere in the region of 42,000 skilled-people. 

That isn't great, but according to the Construction Skills Network Report it’s likely to get much worse: by 2026 the industry will need another quarter of million people.

The authors of the report pointed out that with unemployment at its lowest point in 50 years, and job vacancies at a record high, that “building a highly skilled workforce”, is the single biggest challenge facing contractors.

How the industry got to this point is a source of endless debate, but largely pointless. What we need now is a different approach, one that has a uniform realisation that the current plan to solve the skills crisis isn’t working.

Rather than repeat those mistakes, we need to realise that young people want different things from their careers. For the most part they have more options, and higher expectations. As a result the construction sector has to work much harder to attract talent and retain talent

Assuming that there’s a surplus of young kids interested in entering the trades because they’re not doing A-levels or going to university isn’t good enough. 

To compete for resources, the industry has to be open to change. This is not a time for ‘builder says no’ thinking.

A recent story in the press suggested that the reason there was a skills shortage was that the youth of today don’t like getting up at 7am.

That’s not an unpopular thought with many builders, but then most people don’t like getting up at 7am in the morning. That’s why, as their boss you have to make it worth their while. Giving apprentices a job that challenges them, where they can learn, and earn decent money will go a long way to changing attitudes.

Unfortunately, just changing industry opening hours won’t fix the skill crisis. 

The industry must work closer with schools and higher education, there needs to be more government funding and training for small businesses and solo tradespeople to enable them to develop talent. 

Apprenticeships need to be available to more people – regardless of their age or sex – from different backgrounds. 

The key here is selling the industry; that means talking up the opportunities and making the industry more appealing. The onus is on the industry to solve the problem – yes, the industry needs government help – but we also have to change attitudes to make the industry more welcoming to work in.

Trending Stories

Listen Live Listen