Upping the ante on skills

Jeffrey Matsu

Senior Economist (RICS)

The shortage of skills has become a recurring theme for businesses within the built environment and a major constraint on growth according to the latest results of our UK Construction and Infrastructure Market Survey, Q2 2017.


Full results: RICS UK Construction and Infrastructure Market Survey, Q2 2017

The pipeline of talent poses a particular challenge for quantity surveyors, but professionals across a vast array of trades such as bricklaying and electrical are also affected.

On 20 July, a panel of industry experts explored this issue, along with other ways to better encourage industry activity, at an event held at Battersea Power Station.

Assessing the skills divide

In a special report titled “Upping the ante on skills”, I’ve assessed the skills divide and what it means for the future of our industry and profession.

With nearly 430,000 construction workers set to have retired between 2010 and 2020, the industry must ensure it can inspire new talent into the profession through innovative career pathways that appeal to a broader cross-section of society.

Indeed, 59% of respondents to RICS UK Construction and Infrastructure Market Survey, Q1 2017 ranked improved education pathways and training as the most effective policy response to labour supply pressures, ahead of either immigration or government subsidies.

Fostering another generation of skilled workers will require more responsive workforce development programmes that better link educators and vocational training providers with the needs of businesses.

Upping the ante on skills: 4 key takeaways

Here’s a snapshot of the key outcomes highlighted in this report, and what the skills divide could mean for our industry:

  1. Reduced net migration will exacerbate the current shortage of skilled workers.
  2. Government investment in training can help to bridge the skills divide if it’s targeted more on attainment outcomes rather than  numbers. The apprenticeship levy is a first step but not the final solution.
  3. Given the highly cyclical nature of construction workload activity, better job skills transference could improve labour mobility and overall hiring outcomes.
  4. Introducing more diversity in the way that industry operates and simplifying the system by reducing the number of  technical qualifications available could attract new entrants.

How do you believe we can combat the skills shortage? Read the full report below and leave your comments.


Comments (1)

  1. having worked in education for a number of years, I feel there is a stronger need to explain the advantages of working our sector at a much younger age, pre 13year olds, their teachers and their parents should all have the advantages explained to them as well as the diversity of the sector.

    Focussing on post compulsory education is too late, often the majority of school leavers end up working in our sector by accident rather than by design and this will lead to the fluctuations and skills shortages. As some of these if not most will leave the sector either before or within a short time of graduating.

    Raising the knowledge early on is a priority often missed. I am currently working on a project in uni of Northampton to try and address this issue locally.

    David Roberts David Roberts, 22 July at 13:14PM

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