Although the recent announcement from Home Secretary Priti Patel on increased immigration rules will hit construction hard, the need to attract people into the industry is further compounded by wider issues.
Take as an example the Civil Engineering Contractor Associations (CECA) recent announcement that 52% of firms highlighting that they are struggling with workforce numbers.
2019 was a pretty flat year within infrastructure, but 34% of businesses reported an uplift of work in Q3. This is only likely to increase as sizable projects get under way this year.
In the CECA report they urged authorities and the government to work together to tackle this problem. Interestingly, the Scottish Qualification Authority have just published a report on the changing skills required in construction.
Rather starkly, it points towards an industry where a high proportion of workers are reaching retirement and there is a lack of uptake from school leavers.
In fact, the report points towards the average uptake of qualifications in the industry was from learners aged 40! Thankfully, the report points towards the governments efforts in driving apprenticeships has helped to bridge the gap, providing students with an alternative to more traditional studies.
Worryingly, the report continues by highlighting the need to attract the young, and especially girls, into STEM subjects to further bolster workforce numbers over the coming years. This is a subject that has been batted around for years!
It would seem that the SQA are working with other learning providers to encourage the uptake of new skills necessary for the evolution of construction - virtual reality and sustainability both mentioned heavily.
As someone who headhunts within the industry, I can vouch that securing a new leader, especially one who is project specific, is continuing to be highly competitive. Salary ranges continue to increase and there is an increased rise in personnel showing little loyalty to a firm. This continues to put a strain on the wider supply chain within the built environment.
EU construction workers looking to come to this country will have to earn at least £25,600 and speak English under new immigration laws. Home Secretary Priti Patel has confirmed a new points based immigration system which will “end free movement and reassert control of our borders.”