The construction skills crisis

As I have worked within the construction industry for over 30 years and talk to builders daily, I am aware that attracting new talent to work within the construction sector has always been a real challenge. 

If we want a community that has good housing, great local amenities, and infrastructure we need to take pride in the people who will design and build these. But how do we attract the next generation of skilled and passionate construction professionals?

CITBNI forecast that the construction industry in Northern Ireland would have to increase current recruitment by 1,000 new workers each year to deliver the expected work for the next five years. We know local, small and medium-sized building companies train 71% of the apprentices in the construction industry, which means they do more than their fair share to support and develop the next generation of skilled tradespeople. 

We have a role to play to encourage young men and women to look at construction with fresh eyes and see the diverse, exciting, innovative, and potentially well paid employment opportunities within the industry. The FMB is helping to play its part in promoting the industry.

How do we promote the construction industry in Northern Ireland?

The number one selling toy across the world for children involves construction: Lego is adored by millions as they use their imagination to design and build. Somewhere between play and the end of their education children often become disconnected from the construction industry. 

We want to encourage a society that values vocational and skills-based education. For too long we have placed too high a value on academic and university education after which many are left heavily in debt and often without a career in an area they studied in. 

In many cases we are educating for unemployment. We should be training and educating for the opportunities that are already there. We need to help people to recognise the possibilities in undertaking construction apprenticeships, take pride in an education that helps them earn while they learn, and give them a career for life. Let’s strip this right back, make the message clear, present the opportunities fairly, show the career routes and back those who are training. 

With this goal in mind FMB NI has been working with the Department of Economy on a Careers Bulletin to inform potential new entrants to the industry about the opportunities that a career in construction can offer. We encourage you to read the Bulletin and share it with others to help us improve the image of the construction industry. Let’s speak with pride about what we do and reach potentially thousands who will work alongside us. 

An apprentice’s view: why choose a career in construction?

We are grateful for the support of apprentices Iona, Luke, Sean, and Natasha from FMB member companies Marlfield Joinery & Construction Ltd, Lowry Building and Civil Engineering Ltd, Alskea Ltd, and Moffitt and Robinson Construction Ltd, who contributed to the production of the Department of Economy’s Careers Bulletin.

Iona, Luke, Sean and Natasha are fantastic examples of the brilliant young talent in our industry. They share their views on why they chose to pursue a career in construction and offer some advice for those considering an apprenticeship.


Any questions?

Contact Gavin McGuire, Director FMB Northern Ireland on 07341 869 080 or send us an email.

Email Gavin McGuire

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