12th November 2015

Helping the Construction Industry Overcome the Skills Shortage

The skills shortage continues to blight the construction industry, threatening to cause major project delays, financial difficulties and hinder growth. Here we look at how ERP software can help overcome this issue

The skills shortage within the construction industry has reached an 18 year high according to the latest RICS UK Construction Survey, with 53% of companies experiencing issues sourcing people with the right skills. Added to this, official figures reported a sharp fall in output in August, which has been attributed to the skills shortage. On, Owen Goodhead, managing director of the Randstad CPE, agreed, saying the underlying problem restricting output was the skills shortage “putting our homes, infrastructure and economy on the line”. Bernard Brown, Partner at KPMG, also expressed his concerns, “With Britain in the grips of a housing crisis, this shortage of skilled workers could throw a serious spanner in the works, slowing projects in the pipeline and pushing up overall build costs as developers bid high to secure the labour they need.” Without access to skilled workers, businesses will struggle to increase output or meet challenging deadlines.

The Attraction Reaction
During the recession the demand for skilled workers within the construction industry reduced and interest dipped. This led to less people training to become architects, engineers and skilled construction workers, for example, which would be vital for the UKs future growth. It wasn’t until the economy began to recover and demand increased that it was realised there were not enough tradespeople available. Those who’d previously worked within the construction industry had found alternative professions and since the recovery have became reluctant to re-enter the industry due to the long hours and its unpredictable nature.

The UK Government set up Construction 2025, an initiative which aims to revitalise the image of the construction industry, encourage innovation and stabilise growth, attracting a new generation of skilled workers. The initiative explains, “People are construction’s biggest asset and any strategy seeking to transform the industry must start by setting the right foundations for a positive flow of new talent into the industry.”

How Construction ERP Can Help

In order to reduce the impact of the skills shortage, construction companies need to ensure each project is planned, monitored and managed effectively. To do this, construction businesses should be looking to innovative technology. Here’s how ERP software can help:

Manage resource effectively- With access to a limited skilled workforce it’s important to effectively utilise the skills of those you hire. ERP software can help you plan work, resource and skills effectively, maximising output.

Improve efficiency- ERP software can enable growth without increasing your administration head count. It can help minimise waste, automate tasks, and increase productivity through increased collaboration and communication to maximise profits that can be reinvested in to your company to attract and retain the right talent.

Attract the next generation- The Construction Industry Training Board estimated 182,000 qualified tradespeople are needed to meet demand in the UK through to 2019, therefore, the construction industry must attract a new breed of skilled workers. This new generation of workers, Generation Z, who’re dependent on technology will help improve processes to streamline operation costs and increase output. They will bring new and varied skills to the construction industry that harness the intelligence provided through innovative technological solutions. What’s more, as John Hodgins MCIOB said, “…when we build things we leave a legacy for future generations which not all industries can say.” ERP software will make the industry more accessible and diverse, attracting those with IT skills that can be used to increase productivity, maximise output and allow the next generation to leave their mark. reported that, “…90,000 skilled workers [are] expected to retire from their construction jobs between now and 2020…”, therefore the demand for skilled workers will continue to dominate the construction industry, as will the demand for higher wages. ERP software can be used to address financial difficulties and project delays to ensure there is capital to invest in skilled labour. If we’re able to put the right people in the right jobs the construction industry should continue to grow steadily. 

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