Are building and construction skills a dying art?

Published in News on: Thu, Jun 21, 2018 11:15 AM

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The construction sector is no stranger to a challenge, but as Mark Farmer – author of last year’s “Modernise or Die” report – identified – “we are now facing a set of problems that we haven’t seen before”.

However, is there a solution? Are the problems out of our control as individuals or is there a turning point ahead? 

As Novo, a UK leader in recruitment for the construction sector explains, the problem and solution lies in attracting, recruiting and retaining the best staff.

Many of the problems in the industry are outwardly obvious. Economic uncertainty in light of Brexit, discontent in poor quality building and poor productivity, are all having a negative effect before the problems can even start to be addressed.

One area that people may not be as aware of is the problem of an ageing workforce. The Building Services in particular is where we are in severe danger of losing a generation of knowledge with a distinct lack of talent to take up the mantle. The simple fact is that the construction industry as a whole is failing to attract the requisite amount of people to the industry. In the case of Building Services, from what we see in the market, the problem is even more alarming.

Develop passion from an early age

This of course stems from school years. Students still perceive construction as workers on a site laying bricks, digging foundations and sitting in hot vehicles. They don’t see the rich tapestry of careers the construction sector offers, on and off the site. From designing iconic buildings, buying materials for projects, managing logistics, health and safety, electrical installations – the list goes on and on. Like any other industry, construction needs to be shouting about variety.

This lack interest or education at an early stage, has led to the building services community, inparticular, being heavily weighted towards the older end of the spectrum with a huge void left in the middle and at the bottom. Instead, we are finding candidates in their late 20s and 30s step up into management roles but without the benefit of the vast bank of knowledge from their older peers.

Yes, there are some extremely talented younger individuals working in the sector but in a market that has increased by 25% in the last 5 years, there simply isn’t enough at present to carry through a smooth succession plan for the continuity of the industry. Indeed, Building Services could take a leaf out of the Mechanical and Electrical systems industry which has seen increased growth after past struggles.

What can the industry do?