Tackle skill shortages in your construction company now before they escalate into a crisis.
Generation Z are the young people who were born after the millennials – those who are unlikely to remember a time without the internet. Very few of Generation Z’s members are pursuing a career in the construction industry and this is likely to affect the recruitment strategy in your construction company.
Skill shortages are a prominent issue in construction. Results from the Construction News Barometer for Q4 2014 stated that more than 9 out of 10 construction companies said a lack of skills or staff was among their greatest concerns over the next 12 months. Further to this, data from the Office for National Statistics shows the number of people completing a construction apprenticeship halved between 2008 and 2013, to just 7,280.
The rapid spread of skill shortages means construction companies looking to acquire talent aren’t just competing with each other but across engineering, technology, manufacturing and other sectors. Three-out-of-four construction industry leaders fear skills shortages will slam the brakes on the country’s economic recovery.
Construction’s struggle against university
The construction industry, with its huge demand for technical and craft skills, is also suffering from the obsession of successive governments to push young people into university. Back in 1999, the business and education communities welcomed Labour’s Tony Blair when he suggested 50% of our young people should enter higher education.
“In today’s world, there is no such thing as ‘too clever’. The more you know, the further you will go,” he said, but whilst his observation was correct, his solution wasn’t.
While many young people go to university, some have entered the construction industry to become joiners, for example. Developing a particular skill, such as refurbishing homes, has meant that they have built a property portfolio, earned more money quickly and are now set to retire early. With 19% of the construction industry set to retire in the next 5-10 years, the construction industry needs to do as much as possible to attract members of Generation Z to their businesses.
How to attract Generation Z
Construction companies should be using social media to raise their profile, because if you’re looking to reach young people you must be in the channels they rely on for their view of the world. Online platforms that particularly appeal to Generation Z include Twitter, which is particularly sociable, and LinkedIn which is used by young professionals.
Your construction company should be prepared to adapt its business and recruitment strategy to meet the technological expectation that Generation Z will have, including remote working and working on their own devices. Mobiles are becoming increasingly important and so you will need to ensure that employees can access everything they require through their smartphones. In addition to this, you should also utilise popular apps used by Generation Z, including FaceTime and WhatsApp.
Away from technology, it is important to give Generation Z a taste of life in construction work. This can be achieved through apprenticeships, but for SMEs who face finding alternative funding for apprenticeships, this can be achieved through offering voluntary work experience placements.
- The skills crisis is real – and growing – with 43 different sectors now suffering its impact.
- Creating a positive image of construction is down to you – nobody else.
- Bright tech-savvy young people want employers who embrace their view of the world.
- Firms that wait for industry-led solutions to tackle skill shortages won’t survive.