The Uk’s construction industry faces a demographic challenge that threatens its ability to meet the demands of an ever-growing population.
With an ageing workforce and a lack of diversity, the industry struggles to attract and retain new talent. This leaves many companies scrambling to fill these gaps.
Here, we’ll look at the reasons behind this demographic challenge, its implications for the industry as a whole, and the steps that can be taken to address this pressing issue.
An Aging Workforce
Statistics show that the average age of construction workers in the UK who are 60 years and older is steadily increasing. Additionally, a quarter of the workforce is now aged over 50 years, with more than 300,000 workers over 55 planning to retire a decade later.
As the aging workforce retires, it leaves a large skills gap that younger generations struggle to fill. Perhaps one of the reasons for the lack of interest in construction work among younger generations is the job’s physical demands and low compensation. Many young people today would rather pursue a higher education and white-collar careers than blue-collar jobs like construction.
Additionally, people aren’t aware of the opportunities available in the industry and how it can be a lucrative and rewarding career path. The impact of this aging workforce on the industry’s future shouldn’t be overstated. With fewer workers becoming contractors and a big population of the current workforce nearing retirement, there’s a looming worker shortage. This could have severe implications for the construction industry in the UK, delaying or cancelling major projects.
So, what can be done to address this demographic challenge? Governments can focus on promoting the available opportunities to the younger generations and highlighting the rewards of a career in construction. Additionally, they can develop more training and education programs to help workers develop the skills needed to succeed in the industry.
Lack of skilled workers
The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) estimates that the industry needs to recruit more than 40,000 new workers annually to meet the high demand for skilled labour. But despite a large number of vacancies, the applications aren’t enough.
One factor causing this skills shortage is the impact of the recession on the industry. During the 2008 financial crisis, workers were laid off while many others left the industry, leaving only a handful coming in. This resulted in a shortage of experienced workers, largely made up of the aging workforce.
A lack of apprenticeships also contributes to a declining workforce in the construction industry, especially after the recession. This created fewer opportunities for young people to enter the profession and acquire the necessary skills and experience.
Finally, the construction industry faces stiff competition from other sectors, which lures skilled workers away with their higher pay and benefits. This leads to delays in completing projects and increased costs due to the need to hire temporary workers.
The industry should invest in apprenticeships and training programs to ensure young people can gain the experience and skills needed. It should also improve pay and benefits to attract and retain more skilled workers.
The recruitment process for construction companies is time-consuming and costly because the longer it takes, the more projects get delayed. Additionally, the current shortage of workers in the industry has only made things worse as companies struggle to find the right people for the job. And since the industry is seen to be physically demanding and dangerous, only a handful of potential recruits find it attractive.
Construction companies also struggle with a high turnover rate, seeing workers leave for different reasons like retirement, illness, or injury. This forces companies to constantly recruit new workers to replace those who left.
To address these recruitment challenges, companies should highlight the opportunities for career growth, job security, and the potential to earn a good salary in their fine print. They should also promote the use of modern technologies in the field and sustainability, which is particularly interesting to younger workers.
Offering competitive wages and benefits will also work to attract and retain contractors. This includes flexible work arrangements, health insurance, and retirement plans.
Overcoming the Crisis
The Uk’s construction industry faces a big challenge in the form of an ageing workforce and a lack of enough young contractors. While the problem is complex, the industry must act now to attract and retain new talent and develop strategies to upskill existing workers.
With the right strategies, we can ensure that the construction industry remains strong and vibrant for future generations.