In the cyclical construction industry, contractors around the world are struggling to meet the rising demand for skilled labour. There are a number of factors contributing to the crisis and here, we’ll explore three strategies for the construction industry to tackle the shortage moving forward:
1. Attract more apprentices
Construction was one of the heaviest hit industries during the GFC and this led to a huge decrease in the number of school leavers being drawn towards a once lucrative industry. A few years on, we are feeling the effects of this with an ageing workforce and major lack of apprentices.
An obvious local solution is to address pay rates for apprentices. When school leavers come to making decisions about their future, it can be difficult to entice them into jobs in construction due to the tough physical nature of the work, often out in the the harsh conditions of nature, whether it’s sweltering heat or freezing cold.The incentive of money needs to be present to steer them towards the trade.
With so much emphasis on careers in professional industries coming from schools through to parents and down to the kids, along with stories of lucrative salaries for tech folks, lawyers and accountants to name a few, the job of selling a per hour, per day or per unit rate for a construction job becomes a lot more difficult.
Manual labour is nowhere near as attractive as the alternatives these days and that is evident when we look at the number of apprentices taking up positions, there needs to be some glamour brought back to construction and that needs to come in the form of currency..
2. Mobilise the workforce
If we look at Europe as a whole, the USA or Australia, it’s quick to see that within these regions, some areas experience much higher growth rates than others.
Rural areas might have a lower rate of pay due to a lack of demand whilst nearby cities have booming economies and offer top rates to meet labour demands. While there is a ‘global skills shortage’ there are still many construction workers struggling to line up a consistent pipeline of well paid work.
By mobilising the global construction workforce and display all of the available trade jobs on one central platform online, the decision making process becomes transparent to everyone.
At ConX we are creating a global database of construction workers around the world, providing each member with a personal prequalified profile, detailing their skills and past experiences, giving them an opportunity to promote themselves with images of their work for employers to see.
Much like how the mining industry operates, by giving people the opportunity to move around and to ‘go where the work is’ we can target the booming areas and relieve the stress of a skills shortage a lot quicker than having to train new skilled workers.
Find also here: Best Construction Companies In Europe – 2017
3. Technology & Innovation
Technology and innovation is a latecomer to the construction industry, but the last 5 years has seen huge advances in innovative construction methods and how construction sites work.
Australia has seen the introduction of a robot bricklayer to relieve the stress of the bricklayer shortage in Australia, while the first skyscraper will be constructed using 3-D printing in Dubai in the near future, hugely reducing the need for manual labour.
Prefabrication of buildings is increasing the speed and quality of construction, allowing structures to be built in controlled environments, keeping costs to a minimum, and dramatically reducing the need for skilled labour onsite.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to alleviate a skills shortage, attracting more youths into the industry, putting structures in place for the labour force to be transient and utilising technology to the best of our ability should see a dramatic improvement in how the industry operates.
About the author: Keith Moore is a co-founder and Head of Community at ConX, a platform that simplifies how construction contractors find work, hire and promote themselves online.