By Simon Cain, Recruitment Consultant, GCS Associates

The skills crisis within the wider construction sector has been widely reported after CITB’s annual Construction Skills Network report in January concluded that 45,000 new construction workers were needed each year to meet demands between now and 2027. According to the Builders Merchant News, the challenges are almost identical within the building materials supply sector with a similar need to grow the workforce in line with construction growth.

Why is there a skills shortage?

Put simply, we have an ageing workforce, and there are dwindling numbers of young people entering the building trade. As the current workforce nears retirement, new blood is essential to replace those who leave. The current crisis has resulted because there hasn’t been that steady drip-feed of replacement over the past few decades. The last big boom in recruitment was during the 1980s – 40 years ago. These are the workers now approaching retirement.

Unfortunately, little has been done to make construction and building materials sectors seem like an attractive career choice for Millennials and Generation Z, especially next to the proliferation of new opportunities fuelled by digital technology. There is the perception – not unfounded – that construction lags behind other industries in digital transformation, further discouraging the digital natives amongst potential new entrants.

It’s also worth noting the lack of diversity within the industry, where white males make up a massive majority. Women account for around 12% of construction employees, the same percentage as those from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. There are thousands of potential new entrants who might be put off joining an industry that they feel doesn’t represent them.

What can Employers do?

To succeed in meeting talent demands in a candidate-short market, employers must concentrate on developing strategies for both attracting and retaining talented employees.

Here are five ways to make your business more attractive to candidates and fulfil changing employee expectations.

  1. Review your hiring processes
  2. Offer the benefits that employees really want
  3. Build a positive and inclusive company culture and tell people about it
  4. Invest in your people

5. Invest in Employer Branding

Michael Parry, Managing Director at GCS Associates comments,
‘It can be challenging, but developing a smart, forward thinking employer brand will not only attract and engage potential employees but motivate and retain current employees too. These days it’s not enough to just invest in marketing products and services, developing a robust employer brand will put your ahead of the competition and make your business really stand out to potential employees. Apprenticeships are also a great way to attract talent and with the new government schemes in place, should begin to be easier to implement too”

Future Proofing the Sector

To facilitate future success, it is vital that leaders take action to address the severe talent shortage. Tackling recruitment and technology challenges in tandem will help companies become the best advertisement in attracting talent, not just for themselves but for the sector as a whole. Organisations must also invest in the skills that will meet growing needs such as net zero emissions.

Purpose-driven organisations will attract a more diverse range of employees into the industry. While implementing digital tools and processes, especially in times of talent shortages, can be daunting, it could be what firms need to give them a competitive edge and maintain their post-pandemic recovery. Not only will it help achieve longer term goals, but it will also help to ease pressures within the workforce in the short term.

For more information on Recruitment and Employer Branding contact us: 

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