The construction industry is growing in terms of available work and shrinking in terms of the people required to do it!

Figures show that at the start of the recession, in Q3 of 2008, there were 2.58 million people who worked in ‘construction’.  At its lowest point, the construction industry had lost nearly half a million workers, although this has slowly risen once times became better but is still around 350,000 less than at its peak.

However, the most alarming fact is that youngsters did not come into the construction industry during the last part of the 2000s and during the start of the 2010s but there were still experienced people retiring.  This has meant that not only is there a dearth of people coming into construction, the pool of knowledge that was there, has also diminished.

62% of contractors have reported that they have difficulty in filling vacancies and there is also a problem in finding the people with the right cosntruction skills. CV-Library has said that they had a 36.5% rise in applications during 2015 as work becomes more available.  However, contractors are reporting that many of these applications are by people without the qualifications that the job actually requires.

The other problem is that the basics of the construction industry haven’t really changed in 50 or even 100 years. Youngsters thrive on the use of technology, construction jobs do not set out to attract women and ethnic minorities.  Companies may train people on the technicalities of their work but do not spend much on personal and management development.  On top of this, it is a known fact that the industry is probably the first to make wholesale redundancies in any downturn and so if someone joins now and in 5 years’ time we suffer another recession, they know that they are likely to be laid off – so why bother to get into such an insecure sector?

All of these facts mean that the pool of people starting to look at their careers, often look at construction as a bit of a ‘dinosaur’ industry and so look elsewhere.

Construction must quickly start to ensure that it becomes attractive to prospective new entrants, not just in earnings potential but in job security, career development and the use of modern technology in all of its forms.


Tony Willson

Managing Director

Helmsman services Ltd

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