A survey of 300 industry professionals found that while they were concerned about skilled labour shortages in traditional trades, building information modelling (BIM) was a bigger issue for them.
The survey was conducted by BRE Academy, the training arm of the Building Research Establishment.
Its report said that sustainability and environmental skills as well as trades such as plastering, electrical and plumbing were in short supply across construction. However BIM and management skills, seen as key to future development, were seen as lacking on a wider industry as well as an individual company or organisation basis.
The survey also highlighted construction’s image problem, with 91% of respondents saying that people outside the industry have a different perspective of the industry than those within it.
A need was identified to establish ‘clear and appealing’ career pathways for young entrants to the industry, with 74% of respondents saying that these should be ‘actively promoted’ and 67% saying that there should be more focus on promoting construction’s hi-tech and digital aspects.
In addition the industry should be promoted more to academically minded students as well as those aiming for vocational qualifications, according to the survey respondents.
Elaborating further, the report identified key improvements in the areas below:
- Professional Bodies
How Schools Can Help.
It was felt that schools can do more to help for example promoting the value of apprentice schemes and non-academic qualifications to secondary age students, as well as promoting the industry to academically-minded students. It was also felt that high profile projects e.g. The Shard and Cross Rail would help elevate the construction industry in the minds of students.
How Professional Bodies Can Help
It was widely felt that professional bodies should take the lead in terms of promoting the high level of skills required in industry, in particular promoting technical training and promoting the range of opportunities in the industry and the skills required. It was also requested that professional bodies offer a wider range of memberships with reduced fees to accommodate a wider cross-section of the construction industry.
How Government Can Help
Most responses centred around government working to empower smaller, local businesses to offer excellent apprenticeship training programmes for young people. As well as working more closely with colleges and schools and partnering with local employers to increase promotion of apprenticeships / technical apprentices. It was also felt that government should demonstrate a greater commitment to SMEs e.g. offering them greater financial support to operate training /apprenticeship schemes.
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