The Construction Industry White Collar Skills Shortage

The Construction Industry White Collar Skills Shortage

13th June 2016

Here at Safety Fabrications we’ve been bringing you news about the skills shortage in the British construction industry on a regular basis.  In fact, it was one of the major issues covered in our article last week on the subject of a Brexit in the forthcoming referendum.  There’s a shortage of skilled workers here in the UK building sector that could be made much worse in the event of the UK choosing to leave the European Union.  Today we’re taking a look at another side of the skills shortage, and that’s the lack of white collar skills that is having just as much of an effect on the industry.

According to the latest State of Trade Survey by Build UK there is a growing shortage of white collar staff, including supervisors, managers, professional and technical staff.  Recruiters in the construction industry are experiencing difficulty in filling vacancies due to a low number of applicants with the mandatory skills, and many applicants don’t have the experience and qualifications necessary for the work. 

While we’ve seen a 39% rise in all building costs over the past quarter due to a rising labour cost of 43% compared with the previous quarter, this means that labour costs were significantly higher than they were only  a year ago.  Contractors are feeling positive about their prospects for the future right now and 52% of respondents reported that they expect their workloads to increase in the coming twelve months. 

Although this is good news for the British construction industry as a whole, employers are experiencing a rise in the cost of both materials and labour as the industry heads towards maximum capacity.  This has put the spotlight on the difficulties that employers face when they try to recruit workers with the appropriate skills at all levels.

The BBC reckons that it’s time for schools to concentrate more on teaching digital technology amid calls for young people to be taught these skills in order to secure the jobs of the future.  With the construction industry now on board and fully embracing the digital technology required to keep up with 21st Century requirement, it’s more vital than ever that the while collar workers in the sector are fully au fait with these technical skills. 

With a changing economy, many white collar and professional jobs could be under threat from the increasing likelihood of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and technological changes will affect the future jobs market.  Lord Kenneth Baker, who heads the Edge Foundation, an independent education charity dedicated to raising the status of technical, practical and vocational learning, warns that the provision of the necessary digital skills is “almost entirely absent from the core curriculum in mainstream schools”.  He calls for a stronger emphasis on work-related technical skills linked to the impact of digital technology.  This is an issue that could have huge repercussions for future white collar workers in the construction industry as it experience an increase in the use of digital technology in future years.