Despite the fact that the authorities have known for some time that the UK construction industry is short of skilled labour it seems that insufficient investment is making the situation worse. A report by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry suggests that an amazing 58% of businesses looking to recruit skilled labour candidates were finding it very difficult. In particular the construction industry seems to be hardest hit with a number of issues now coming to the fore.
When you bear in mind the length of apprenticeships in the UK construction industry there is an obvious timelag between investing in apprenticeships and creating fully qualified skilled labour. While you can understand the reluctance to invest in frivolous political points scoring schemes there needs to be greater cooperation between the authorities and the construction industry. Until we see more action and less talking from the politicians it seems that this situation will only get worse.
We often hear politicians commenting on the number of construction apprenticeship places being made available but how many of these actually come to fruition? An inability to look beyond the short term is having a major impact not only on the construction industry but also the UK property market.
What little actual money is going into construction apprenticeship schemes would seem to be invested in the wrong place at the wrong time. The industry has been calling out for the authorities to listen to what they require and not just roll out the same old apprenticeship schemes to grab the headlines. The problem seems to be that by the time potential apprentices leave college to move full-time into the workplace they do not have sufficient skills, or the right type of skills, to fill the current void.
It is imperative that the correct skills are taught to the apprentices of the future because not only is money being wasted but apprentices with good potential for the future may be lost to the industry forever. Can you imagine enduring a full apprenticeship for the construction industry only to find that the skills you have been taught do not match those required?
Action required now
When we all see the headlines regarding apprenticeships and the millions of pounds invested by the politicians it is easy to take it for granted that this investment is in the right place at the right time. The industry is telling us that the politicians aren’t listening, investment is targeted at the wrong area and the ongoing new build housing problem will get much worse before it gets better.
There is also the fact that with a lack of skilled labour coming into the construction industry those with the necessary skills will be in high demand and likely charge more. This increase in costs will impact margins, impact prices and also impact money available for re-investment in the future. The knock-on effect from the apparent mismanagement of the construction apprenticeship scheme could be something which the government and the industry will have to live with for some time to come. Why are the politicians telling the construction industry what to do when surely it must be the other way around?