Chris Blythe: The silver lining on the jobs cloud
The latest skills survey from CITB-ConstructionSkills gives a bleak outlook for the UK industry for 2012. A projection of 45,000 jobs to be lost is not a great start to the year.
There was one bright spot in the report. From 2013 output will begin to pick up, although at reduced levels, and over 30,000 more construction managers will be required up to 2016.
Some of these will be new entrants to the industry, but many will already be in construction and changing careers, some relishing the prospect and others viewing it with trepidation. This is a natural reaction when moving out of your comfort zone.
In fact, there may be someone reading this article now wondering what it means to be a construction manager. What they will learn as they look through the magazine is that construction management is diverse and covers a range of activities. What they will also learn is that construction managers are talented, accomplished and operate at all levels of the industry.
They will also see in the Contact pages stories of people just like them who have been able to achieve a chartered qualification even as a late starter. The University of Life may not issue any degrees, but they will find that their experience is highly valued.
But for that to happen there is a real case for a change in emphasis in terms of funding. Demand for the traditional trades is forecast to decline. There is not much point funding programmes where there is no demand for the skills. On the other hand, training and developing 30,000 construction managers over the next four years is going to need resourcing.
Whether CITB-ConstructionSkills will believe its own survey is another matter, but the source of the data is impeccable — it's the employers.
But employers also have changing expectations. At a recent CIOB scholarship presentation, hosted jointly with the Worshipful Company of Constructors, a director of one scholar's company said that modern construction managers needed different skillsets than their predecessors had, not just 10 years ago, but five years ago. Construction management has become as dynamic as that.
That’s great news for anyone becoming a construction manager, and for the CIOB. So for those readers contemplating whether this is for them, I hope this piece, as well as the rest of Construction Manager, has persuaded you to join the CIOB and get the recognition you deserve.