For the last few years the threatening skills shortage has shadowed the trade sector – and the aftermath of an aging workforce and a disinterested younger generation could see wages climb.
A warning from a training provider has cautioned that until the crisis is dealt with by government and employer’s alike, tradesmen including gas, water and electricity workers could soon be demanding Premiership level salaries.
The CEO of Develop Training (DTL) Chris Wood, stated:
“Most people will be unaware of a looming catastrophe, one that threatens to literally turn Britain’s lights out. The chronic skills shortage in the utilities, energy and construction industries means companies are fishing from the same small pool of talent, which is inevitably pushing up salaries.”
“If the skills shortage isn’t tackled head on, those few who do have the skills and experience will become more and more valuable, as companies struggle to maintain the level of service consumers are currently receiving, and we’ll eventually see wage inflation to unsustainable levels, maybe even rivalling Premiership footballers.”
Whilst an increase in wages may sound all well and good, ultimately your customers will suffer as the rise in wages and salaries will ultimately be passed onto them in the form of service charges.
So what is the solution?
According to Neil Martin, Managing director of Construction at Lendlease we need to “engage young people to fill 182,000 jobs by 2018.”
In an article for The Guardian, Neil writes:
“The UK has one of the worst levels for youth unemployment in the developed world with close to one million young people not in education, employment or training. And yet we are still struggling to fill the skills gap in the construction industry.”
This has been put down to disinterest from millennials and their false perceptions of the industry in general.
Martin continued: “…government research shows that the construction sector has an image problem that deters people from entering the industry. This is especially true amongst millennials who tend to view the industry as old fashioned and not very dynamic….we need to change, challenge and tackle these perceptions”
Constructing a new image
A survey conducted by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills found that the construction sector has a significant image problem that is deterring young people from considering it as a viable career option.
With only 42%* of 14 to 19 year olds viewing the construction industry as a possible career option, the issue is connected to the perception of construction being outdoors and involving “getting dirty”. The larger perception also involves the industry being more suited to “young people who do not get into college or university”.
This poor image has had a knock on effect on the sectors capabilities to attract, recruit and retain people with the appropriate skills.
Success for the future
Sounding reserved, Chris Wood lastly noted that the industry requires a turnaround:
“Otherwise, the day is fast approaching when there will simply not be enough workers available to perform these vital jobs. We are already seeing wage inflation as employers compete for a dwindling workforce, and that trend will continue until there is an upturn in the number of new recruits.”
“In order to make this happen, the education system needs to engage school students early on, just as they used to, before universities were seen as the most accepted route of further education.
“Let’s all work together to ensure apprenticeships are efficiently marketed to everyone as a respected first choice alongside academic routes and not a second best option.”
Government – over to you.