I've been thinking a lot about what Brexit will mean for the Construction Industry and it's already large skills gap. So whilst this won't be a blog on the impact of Brexit on Construction, we do know it will have an effect on its labour supply as we are already feeling it. As an industry, it's not always clear what the built environment has to offer to people considering it as a career option and at a time where we need to fill a significant number of jobs it is more important than ever to demonstrate what the industry as a whole has to offer.
If you haven't already seen most of my social media, I graduated this weekend after completing an MSc in Surveying. The whole experience coming to a close got me thinking about how good the experience of re-training as a Quantity Surveyor has been. Whilst I have spent my entire career so far (10 years) working within Construction and Engineering, it wasn't until my late twenties that I decided I wanted to move away from Project Management and instead train to be a QS.
For me the transition seemed obvious, the roles were different yet the skills required were similar and things I had experience in as a PM would help me in the new role as a QS. The reason I was able to do this was that unlike a lot of industries, I was able to study whilst working in the job I was training in - something that accelerated my learning greatly. I chose distance learning with the University College of Estate Management so I could work full time but a significant number of trainee QSs work 4 days a week and go to university 1 day a week.
The construction industry facilitates entry by allowing people to work and study at the same time. Importantly this means that the decision to train in a construction role such as Surveying can be easier as there is no loss or a limited loss of income and often construction companies will pay for training too. Both of these points are important factors for most people especially those with dependants.
At a time where UK unemployment is at its lowest since 1975 (ONS) at 4.3% it is difficult for the construction industry to attract new people into construction roles. It isn't just the next generation we should be encouraging, but also those who have been out of work for a period of time, and those who fancy a new challenge and career change. There is some movement towards this especially through schemes for "returners". (Check out Balfour Beatty's scheme if you are interested)
Over the next few weeks I will be posting new blogs that show the experiences from people working in the construction industry and demonstrate the range of roles and diversity of people who work in the industry. If we do not provide easily accessible information, how can we expect people to know what roles are available to them?