The UK’s construction industry is diverse
Lisa Tomlin, CEO of flooring and floor coverings distributor, CFS,
considers what the flooring and wider construction industry must
do to tackle the skill shortage
which is faring a lot better thanks to its effective
campaigning and recruitment drives.
NOVEMBER 8 | BUILDING PRODUCTS
and all encompassing. Taking public
and private into account, and allowing
for new-build, refurbishment and
maintenance, the industry contributes 7% of GDP,
while the value of its output continues to rise.
The specialist areas that hoover up both skilled
and unskilled workers cover everything from
design, architecture, civil engineering and brick
laying to plumbing, carpet fitting, carpentry and
sales. All of these sub-sectors require a constant
feed of new labour. The increase of temporary
and short-term contracts in the UK means we
have relied heavily on a diverse, migrant-heavy
workforce in recent years – a workforce which
may well not be so fluid and accessible further
down the line.
The current market
Investment in construction projects is growing again
and the good news is that, with the government
promising one million new homes by 2020, the
industry, which always reflects the general status
of the economy, is looking fairly buoyant.
The bad news is that the skills shortage, which
has been threatening to put a chokehold on the
wider industry for some time, shows no sign of
abating. Instead, if nothing is done to prevent it, it
could get even worse.
A dwindling workforce
There are several reasons why we are facing
this predicament, not least the age of a high
percentage of workers in the construction sector,
with almost a quarter of the workforce over 50 at
the last count. A reported 15% are 60-plus, which
means that retirement is on the horizon for many
– and sooner rather than later.
This problem is exacerbated at the other end of
the scale by the fall in the number of younger
candidates who are willing to engage with any of
From school leavers to graduates, there has been
a general dip in those prepared to consider a career
in the industry, and the number of apprenticeships
has fallen again in the last 12 months.
In fact, in terms of apprentices and trainees,
the construction industry compares unfavourably
with many other industries such as healthcare, Continued on page >>>
We clearly need to do more to market our
industry and that needs to be done by challenging
perceptions and shouting about the wealth of
opportunities that exist.
The construction industry requires a makeover
in order to look attractive to the next generation
of workers. Whether you’re a floor fitter or a
carpenter, we need to showcase the hard work and
skill required to work in construction. We need
to show young people the career opportunities
available within the industry and work with
companies to make apprenticeships accessible.
Focusing on apprenticeships
The government has invested more than £1bn
into training and apprenticeship schemes in