It’s no secret that construction is suffering a severe skills shortage. The latest statistics from the FMB State of Trade Survey show that 64 per cent of companies are struggling to hire bricklayers, and 59 per cent are struggling to hire carpenters/joiners. The SME sector leads the way in training the next generation, with two-thirds of all construction apprentices trained by small firms.

With the UK at record-high levels of employment and low levels of immigration from the EU, we need to make sure we step up to the mark and attract the next generation of master craftspeople into the industry. After all, construction, planning and the built environment will be at the forefront of tackling some of the biggest challenges we face including housing demand and climate change, and so it’s never been more important to engage and empower young people to shape the fabric of their future.

By investing in and protecting our existing workforce, we’re not only ensuring that construction is a challenging yet secure industry to work in, but we’re also showing the next round of recruits that if you work hard, you will be rewarded with support and success.

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Upskilling is one way in which we can invest in our workforce, in terms of sharing the latest expertise in energy efficiency retrofit technology or pre-fabricated modular construction. Innovation in health and safety is also crucial, with the take-up of mental health first aid courses skyrocketing. While the construction industry has made great strides in safety over the past 30 years, managing health-at-work is still a challenge. Everyone working in construction has the right to a healthy working life and now’s the time to invest for the future. B&CE is working with the industry to develop a new health product, People’s Health, to help improve occupational health across construction.

Protecting our workforce through talking about succession planning, insurance and pension planning is essential in making the industry an attractive place to work from the beginning of a career to the end. B&CE’s The People’s Pension helps employers to meet their auto-enrolment duties and keep things simple, too.

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