Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Industry view: Building to to avoid the skills gap

Post Thumbnail

There is no shortage of debate about the skills shortage facing the oil and gas industry in the north-east of Scotland, but it is not the only sector at risk of haemorrhaging skilled workers in the near future.

The construction industry is currently faced with a workforce rapidly approaching retirement age while, due to the recession, companies have put a freeze on recruitment, meaning a massive skills void is very much a reality.

It is my feeling that the industry has missed an opportunity by failing to adequately plan for the future during the economic downturn and requires to take innovative action to address the issue.

Businesses are now panicking as the industry’s skills shortage starts to bite with a large percentage of the workforce set to start claiming their pensions and fewer construction management graduates coming through from universities and colleges. While the recession has hit the industry extremely hard there is still an annual recruitment rate of construction managers in the UK of over 3,000 according to the latest market research by the Construction Skills Network.

The number of managers that are required, compared with the number retiring and leaving the industry, means there is a skills shortage in that particular role which will only increase in the near future.

In addition, the latest set of figures to be released by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) predicts that 182,000 construction jobs are set to be created in the next five years across the UK, with almost 30,000 of those in Scotland.

Due to the cyclical nature of the construction industry this situation is not a new phenomenon. So why does it come as such a shock to an industry which is capable of planning and programming the most complex of projects? It seems we are incapable of identifying a sustainable strategy for a sector whose health is critical to the nation.

In the past we have come up with excuses as to why we have not managed to implement the necessary changes, pointing the finger at the government for failing to give firm commitments as to when projects will start on site and clients for not wanting to pay a fair price, decrying the quality of subcontractors and the fragmented state of the industry. The problems have been well documented in numerous reports over the years, as have the suggested solutions – but no advances are made because the industry continues to refuse ownership of the situation.

It is essential that we start working together to minimise the potential effect of the skills gap. The industry needs to start making itself a more attractive proposal for school leavers as it comes out of recession and commit to training up the next generation of workers.

A good starting point, and in my opinion one of the most effective way of doing this, is for SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) to link up with colleges and universities in order to directly access those that will be entering the industry in the next four years. At Robert Gordon University (RGU), we have seen a huge amount of interest in our postgraduate course in construction project management this year, as we see people who are already within the industry look to further their careers and step up into the skills gap.

However, the industry needs to attract new blood in, and fostering links with the education sector is one of the ways to do it – there needs to be a realisation that there will be a significant time lag between students starting courses now and the point at which they are industry-ready.

Companies do not want to employ someone who has no hands on experience, and equally we want graduates to come out of RGU at the end of four years with the best possible set of skills to enable them to do their job well.

I want to invite construction companies to look at how they can engage with universities and colleges, from a fairly low level such as simply running workshops and presentations through to committing to taking on a student one day a week throughout their degree to give them a vital grounding in the practicalities of the job.

Businesses can then be confident of getting a return on their investment – an employee who is not only well versed in the newest construction management methods and policies, but who is also well equipped to step onto a building site and know how things work.


Rob Leslie is the course leader for the MSc Construction Project Management at Robert Gordon University (RGU) and a former Chair of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) in Scotland

Already a subscriber? Sign in