Skills shortages loom as workforce ages
The results are more startling that anticipated and should provide a wake-up call to the sector.
The industry could be employing 50% fewer 20 year olds in the next 5-10 years according to recent research which points to significant skills shortages ahead. The research also says there will a large fall in the number of workers aged 35 to 44 by 2019, of over 115,000. However it concludes that there will be large rises in the number of 50-60+ year olds and puts these figures at 160,000
The research, in collaboration with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), is part of the Extending Working Lives (EWL) programme and designed to encourage employers to recruit and retain older workers.
The research, carried out by Capita, aims to demonstrate clearly the impact of current age cohorts on the sector by translating UK population data projections onto the construction workforce of the next 5-10 years. It is hoped to show what it will look like for different age groups, and highlight what the impact of these changes may be on the sector in future, says the report.
It concludes that “The implications of the changes to the construction workforce are considerable and include:
§ The need to confirm the implications of this knowledge in the light of recent research from the CIOB which shows that there are currently significant skill shortages within the sector1
§ The need to introduce or improve performance management / appraisal processes in order to more effectively manage the ageing workforce – especially in the light of the removal of the default retirement age
§ A review on how to enhance the attractiveness of the sector to both younger and middle aged workers
§ The need for the sector to embrace new ways of working – in particular encouraging greater use of a variety of flexible working options including flexible retirement
§ The sector will need to be more proactive in the development of mentoring and knowledge sharing
§ A higher level of investment in retraining and up-skilling of workers - particularly those cohorts who in the past may not have always been the focus of training
§ A recognition from the sector that there is a need for investment in apprentices who may not be eligible for government funding – as other sectors have done
§ Consideration of how roles and tasks may need to be redesigned (adjusted) to reflect the possible decline in physical capacity of large cohorts of older workers
§ Greater investment in employee well-being and healthy living to support longer working life
§ Activity to combat and overcome assumptions and prejudice regarding the capabilities of older workers
§ Forward planning from the sector on populating management cohorts in the future
§ Support for the development of age profiling techniques so that individual employers can be prepared – using ideas from this research on their own work age profile1.5 Implications of failing to address these issues
The report says that over the next few years employers within the sector will find it increasingly difficult to meet demand – especially as the economic recovery develops. It also says that the number of SMEs in the sector will shrink substantially as smaller (family run) businesses fail to attract and retain sufficient workers
Meanwhile, other new research says that the Uk Construction industry may lack the essential management skills to help it overcome the effects of recession. In a poll of 1,450 construction employers, conducted by Industry Training Board and Sector Skills Council, CITB-ConstructionSkills, skills gaps such as understanding the implications of green issues (43%), identifying potential new business (39%) and not having sufficient IT skills (43%) were all areas picked out by industry managers and supervisors as lacking in their organisations.
In addition, a third (32%) of employers said that keeping up to date with the latest innovations, products and techniques was an important concern for their business. A further 32% also stated that their management team's ability to identify the training needs of staff was an area that needed improvement. Interestingly, the Management and Supervisory Skills (M&SS) report which was jointly published by CITB-ConstructionSkills and IFF Research, highlights how green and low carbon issues are becoming increasingly important for employers in the construction industry. Since 2007, 16% more employers see the importance of delivering sustainable practices.
On a broader level, the M&SS report, found that for almost all the skills areas investigated, at least a quarter of employers were experiencing skills gaps. Responding to these figures, CITB-ConstructionSkills has renewed its commitment to implement measures that help to deliver the right skills for economic growth locally and nationally. These initiatives include campaigns such as Cut the Carbon, which helps educate SMEs on green skills, and the Management and Supervisory Development Programme, which awards funding to industry federations to help senior staff improve their leadership abilities.
Mark Farrar, Chief Executive of CITB-ConstructionSkills, said: "The results of the M&SS research clearly show that employers in the UK are aware of the challenges currently facing them and the wider industry. The sector is still going through testing times, and management and supervisory skills will be crucial to helping businesses to prepare for the upturn from 2013.