The problem of an ageing workforce in the UK is a very real one and nowhere more so than within the Construction industry. It has consistently been reported that there is an increasing amount of skilled workers looking towards retirement in the near future, and this paired with a lack of new talent coming through, could equal trouble for organisations who may simply end up without the labour required to operate successfully.
So, what can be done to address this? The Government have recently introduced an Apprenticeship Levy to try and encourage businesses to employ young school leavers – the opportunity to “earn and learn” is one that should prove appealing, but it doesn’t address the fact that Construction isn’t an industry that is instantly attractive to a generation brought up on technology. It is essential that businesses make the time to go into schools and colleges to promote their industry and really sell the opportunities that exist within Construction. There will always be a need for bricklayers, plumbers and such, but school leavers won’t always necessarily make the link to roles in Quantity Surveying or Project Management, and it’s up to the industry to educate them. Construction really does have something for everyone.
Once we have created the interest, it is imperative that we understand what is important to the workforce in order to attract and retain the cream of the talent that is available. What is it that engages millennials and will affirm their loyalty?
There are various things that can be done to make businesses become an “employer of choice”. It is important to create a strong brand and maintain an excellent reputation – the rise of social media means that there is nowhere to hide, and applicants are able to find out everything, good and bad, about your Company prior to an initial interview.
It is important to build a strong, supportive company culture and do things like identifying mentors for a generation that like an arm around their shoulder. Being able to offer a clear and concise career pathway coupled with learning and development support is a great way of attracting ambitious, driven people and offering strong remuneration and benefits packages will go a long way to making people feel valued.
A defined company vision has particular importance. By communicating the big picture, business owners can translate their vision to employees. This gives employees a clear sense of purpose and an understanding of how their efforts fit in the larger plan. When the company’s vision is inspiring and clearly communicated, employees are more motivated to remain with a company than they are if they don’t understand or relate to the company’s vision and direction.
There is far more to Construction than meets the eye, and it is up to the industry to take responsibility for shouting it from the rooftops that they have worked to so hard to build!