Survey: skills shortages still rife
Nearly four out of five respondents (77%) to an on-line survey of members of the CIOB believe there is still an underlying skills shortage. Lack of skilled domestic construction personnel and reluctance of employers to invest in training and education were the most popular reasons given.
The survey, in which almost 1,000 members took part, was published this week and also threw up on-going concerns about what one respondent referred to as the failure of the apprenticeship system and the future for graduates coming into the industry in light of £9000 a year tuition fees. However, some experts are predicting this will lead to more on-the-job training with day release for academic work.
Of the respondents, 25% believed that higher tuition fees would lead to a fall in the number of students entering construction-related degree courses, with more people coming via apprenticeships and or internships (13%) and from schools and part-time courses (13%). Comments made by respondents suggested this would work to the industry’s advantage.
Michael Brown, deputy chief executive of the CIOB said: ”Day release will probably be the way it will go. At the moment training for construction managers is too focused in the university class room. We certainly need far more engagement between industry and university and hopefully fewer school leavers going to university will lead to a shift to more industry-based learning.”
Meanwhile, seven out of 10 respondents said they were managers. The 2010 CIOB survey indicated that 66% of respondents felt that construction graduates leave university without the necessary skills needed to work in the industry. Asked in this survey which specific skills were lacking, 14% said that graduates lacked the necessary technical skills needed to work in the industry, with problem solving and decision making also flagged up as problem areas.
Respondents said that graduates should do at least 12 months’ work experience during and as part of their degree. A total of 42% said they didn’t think that the standard of teaching on construction related courses at universities and colleges meets the current and future needs of the industry.
Turning to apprentices, two in five (39%) expected no change in the number of apprentices they employed, but half (49%) said their organisation did not employ them anyway and 42% thought that the demand for apprenticeships outstripped supply.
On the economic front, 40% of respondents said they expected industry workload to stay the same, while more than half (50%) expected the workforce to decrease. Over half, (56%) said up to 10% of the workforce had been made redundant this year, while 55% had had a pay freeze this year and 21% had received a pay increase.
The removal of the default retirement age would, said just over one in five (21%) produce an ageing workforce and reduce the opportunities for younger people to get promoted (20%).