CIOB survey foresees a return to skills shortages

The construction industry is understaffed, according to results from the fifth annual skills audit of the Chartered Institute of Building. 77% of construction professionals who took part believe that a lack of skilled domestic construction personnel and the scarcity of good training and investment has led to a skills shortage. 85% were concerned that there may not be enough skilled construction personnel available when the industry needs them.

Michael Brown, deputy chief executive at CIOB, said, ‘The signs suggest the industry is being cautious in how it retains staff and recruits new talent. That is unsurprising when the economy is so uncertain. But there is a risk that construction will fall into the same trap as the last recession and lose the people it needs to respond to economic recovery.’

Another finding is that 50% of the sample believe that the construction workforce over the course of 2011/12 will decrease, as opposed to 17% believing it will increase.

According to 51% of the sample, graduates leave university without sufficient levels of technical knowledge. In addition, respondents believe that graduates also lack decision-making and problem-solving skills. As a counter to these points, most respondents believe that work placements and greater integration between industry and academia would help address the lack of these specific skills.

The removal of the UK default retirement age will lead to an aging workforce according to 57% of respondents, which could lead to an increase in mentoring, reinforcement of the value older workers have on firms and the transference of skills to younger generations.

Michael Brown comments, ‘The removal of the default retirement age is a good thing, but we have to recognised that older, experienced workers are also more expensive. And that could have a financial impact on how the industry recruits the next generation.’

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