Is construction’s glass half full or half empty?
It’s fair to say we are facing a perfect storm. For many years we have been facing a skills shortage. Now we are faced with material scarcity and increases in material costs as well as changes in the legislative and regulatory landscape. We also have questions about quality and competence that has meant the industry has been under close scrutiny. In addition, we are now facing increases in utility costs and petrol to make matters worse. But rather than looking at these as ever-increasing challenges should we be looking at these as opportunities?
Last year the CITB claimed that by 2025 the industry will need to recruit an additional 217,000 new workers just to meet demand. This is not an insignificant number and it poses the question where are these people going to come from? Whilst a major challenge, we do need to put this into perspective. The construction industry is the largest industry in the UK and whilst we have a skills shortage, so do many other sectors. It just means that as the largest sector ours is the biggest.
As an industry we have such diversity in terms of roles. There are massive opportunities for people to grow their career and progress. It’s been estimated that there are some 186 plus different roles in the sector – I can’t think of another industry that offers such variety. Furthermore, everyone talks about what a great sector it is to work in and when you work in construction you may move around, but very often people will actually never leave the industry. As a sector we offer everything a young person could ask for.
As such I would argue that yes we have a skills shortage but we have a great opportunity to provide a range of engaging and rewarding careers for young people – much more varied than any other sector.
In terms of other challenges, such as increased legislation and regulation, this is intended to drive performance and help us create a safer built environment and get us to our goal of net zero by 2050. These goals and targets will help to drive quality and innovation and that is a good thing.
Cost will always be an issue and often beyond our control but shouldn’t we be looking at the challenges we face and be a bit more glass half full and realise there are opportunities?