It is well known that there is a skills deficit in the construction industry. Research from EY has shown that the East suffers the worst, with five times as many project management positions that there are qualified and experienced people to carry out the work. The skills deficit has had the most impact on the commercial, financial and project management labour sectors.
The skills deficit has led to a premium being paid for work to be completed, driving up development costs. The time to find and appoint qualified skilled workers can also lead to delays. With £500 billion of investment planned before 2021, with projects such as Crossrail and Hinkley Point in the pipeline. this deficit is likely to get worse.
EY have come up with a number of recommendations that could help to take the edge of the challenges faced by the industry. Firstly, as projects develop and the demand for talent requirements changes, skilled workers should be shared between other teams at the earliest opportunity. When there is a lack of resources, organisations would benefit from setting refreshed project timelines in order to avoid false competition for the same limited talent pool. Another recommendation is project leaders should seek to be more flexible in their approach to finding new talent. The way the UK labour market has changed creates an opportunity to change recruitment processes and move from employment contracts to shorter more flexible contracts with workers.
Next, promoting remote working wherever possible allows skilled individuals to work on more than one project at a time, and makes sure that the talent available is used more efficiently. Following on from this, collaboration between public and private sectors will lead to innovation, a distribution of industry knowledge and help to attract and manage the flow of industry talent in order to make sure that the right people are matched to the right projects. It is also important to plan ahead and track more complex projects in order to make sure that the right people are employed for the role. Finally, it is important to make sure that the skills shortage should be addressed sooner rather than later to ensure that any impact is minimised.