Construction matters. As one of the biggest industries in the world, construction plays an integral economic role, providing employment for more than 7% of the UK workforce.
Does the construction industry have an image problem?
We have a need to build, and this year specifically, the Government has looked to the construction sector for help to repair the post-COVID economy. In July, the Prime Minister announced the most radical reforms to our planning system since the Second World War, pledging that ‘Project Speed’ would change planning laws, preventing delays in large-scale building projects and deliver greener and faster homes.
The project is part of one of the most ambitious programmes in modern government history but comes at a time when the construction sector is experiencing a significant and prolonged skills shortage. The lack of skilled construction workers is at its highest point since 2007, and it is becoming harder to attract young talent to the trade.
That is, attracting young talent to certain aspects of the trade. There continues to be a steady stream of young workers into areas such as architecture, quantity surveying or management roles. But increasingly, any fresh potential workforce is deterred from on-site work through more competitive pay in other sectors and the perceived unstable nature of the work.
Upskilling and investment in our workforce
Encouraging construction as a career option at school-age, through work experience programmes and hands-on experience would help to give the sector more appeal to a younger generation, but it is also our responsibility as employers to make sure we are taking on trainees and upskilling our staff wherever possible.
At Eden Facades, we are proud of the fact that our staff retention is high; we understand the importance of attracting people to the industry and invest in supporting and developing our team.
At present, we have three apprentices in the office who are working towards vocational qualifications including quantity surveying and office management. Attending college or university one day a week, the apprentices spend the other four days with us developing ‘hands-on’ experience, which will give them a competitive advantage when it comes to looking for employment after graduation.
It was announced last year that the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS), which allowed workers to obtain CSCS ‘Industry Accreditation’ cards on an employer’s recommendation, rather than a recognised qualification, is being phased out over the next few years. This can be seen as another positive move towards improving standards and safety on UK building sites, by ensuring that cards are only issued to those that have achieved a recognised industry qualification.
We already actively encourage upskilling within our workforce and ensure our teams are qualified by assisting them with funding for training where appropriate. We recently applied for and received funding from the CITB in order to support some of our operatives through NVQ Level 3, a diploma in occupational work supervision. Jack Sokol, one of our cladding team supervisors, who recently completed his NVQ 2 in Passive Fire Protection, to add to his NVQ2 in Rainscreen Cladding, said “Completing the NVQ has provided me with invaluable experience that has set the foundations of my career within the construction industry, and given me the confidence to carry out my management responsibilities effectively.”
All our site managers at Eden Facades are highly qualified and, by the end of 2020, all will have achieved their NVQ Level 6 Construction Site Management. Only experienced site managers can be eligible for the NVQ Level 6, and we know clients and main contractors are reassured by the level of knowledge and qualification within our team. Tony Hill, Eden Facades Managing Director comments, “Our workforce are trained, qualified and can be on site quickly. As we grow, we are bringing in more people all the time, but the quality needs to remain so they can be relied on to know what they’re doing and have the necessary qualifications for them to work on site safely.”
In addition to actively promoting training and insisting on high levels of competency within our teams, we also appreciate that the construction industry is evolving, at pace. We know that to attract a younger generation of workers to the sector, we need to demonstrate that we are embracing modern methods and techniques, whether that is offsite construction, lightweight steel framing (SFS) , or our commitment to supporting improvements to the sector via digital ways of working.
Let’s show the next generation why construction matters and how we’re making it better.
To find out more about becoming an apprentice with us, or to talk to us about our qualified team, get in touch on 01268 744 199 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org