There is a huge skills shortage within the construction industry. We read it every day in the papers and magazines, we watch it on the news and, more importantly, we all see it every day in our working lives. But it’s time to look at what, or critically who, is creating that problem. Because it’s you! In fact it’s us!
The reality is that we have spent too long ignoring the issue at hand which is investing in infrastructure in our businesses, our communities and our industries. It’s been too easy, for too long, to buy in cheap products or services, relying and feasting upon the inefficient processes within UK construction. We need to look at ways of adding value to projects that doesn’t revolve about being the cheapest, the ones most desperate for the work, and therefore only being able to offer a service or product that reflects the low price on offer.
Here at TDS Midlands we are continually looking at different ways to tackle the skills shortage. Advocating offsite construction processes and promoting improvements in quality, value and productivity across all sectors of the construction industry is vital to us. Our work as part of the Build Offsite group (www.buildoffsite.com) has allowed us to network with like-minded business and people and drive collaborative partnerships whilst looking to the future.
As brilliant as initiatives such as Build Offsite are, they simply cannot progress without one simple component – the right people. Everything that the UK construction industry needs is right here on our doorsteps, but we need to find them. And fast.
In order to keep a skilled and productive industry we need to invest in people and talent. At TDS we have found good people hard to find. But we weren’t looking in the right places. We are now, and it’s schools, colleges and universities. Our biggest challenge today is talking to these people in a language that they understand and that captures their imagination.
The construction industry is a challenging industry but can be a hugely rewarding and exciting place to be. There has never been a better time to get into the sector, and it is about time we started shouting about employability and the options that are open to young people. In terms of personal development we need to open the doors and let them see that there are impressive careers in different sections of construction just waiting for them.
Three years ago we launched The TDS Academy in order to attract young people in to the industry and also to provide a vehicle that ensures the training and qualifications our Apprentices receive is relevant, worthwhile and helps to address the shortage of skill within our industry. We are now training Apprentices at our Construction and Design Centre of Excellence (CADCOE). Our training centre located centrally in the UK in Staffordshire giving access to young people all over the country and presenting them with the opportunity to step into the industry and start ‘work ready’.
It is time to get clever and merge the productivity of offsite construction with the productivity of an upskilled and employable workforce which opens up a whole host of career development ideals, because ultimately, that is where the future of construction lies.