CECA calls for new apprenticeships drive
Construction firms will need to focus more attention on apprenticeships and vocational training in order to avoid future skills shortages, a new industry report has suggested.
Produced by the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA), the Workload Trends Survey for the third quarter of 2014 indicates that contractor workloads and employment levels are improving at the quickest pace in six years.
The research shows that when it comes to their workload and employment expectations for the coming year, contractors are now at their most optimistic level since 2008.
On balance, 90 per cent of the infrastructure contractors who were questioned by the CECA said their workloads have improved over recent months.
However, growing workloads could have negative consequences for contractors, as well as providing them with a timely financial boost.
For instance, the study showed that contractors in England and Scotland now rate skills shortages as their top concern heading into 2015.
Alasdair Reisner, chief executive of the association, said talent shortages already appear to be taking their toll on some building firms in the UK.
He said: “Last year, over one in five UK vacancies were unfilled because of a shortage of skilled workers. While some sectors are affected by the current skills deficit more than others, the construction industry is one of the worst hit.”
With a strong pipeline of infrastructure work likely to provide new opportunities for construction firms, Mr Reisner said it is important that they are able to source job candidates with the right skill-sets.
He said: “There is a substantial pipeline of work to be delivered over the next decade.”
In light of its findings, the association, which offers representation to more than 300 contractors nationwide, has suggested that ministers and construction firms will need to increase their focus on certain key areas.
In particular, it said more attention needs to be paid to apprenticeship opportunities.
The CECA said ministers should aim to offer more support to ‘share’ apprenticeship schemes, extending the roll-out of these initiatives.
Meanwhile, it added that employers and politicians should change their attitudes regarding people’s educational needs.
In the future, greater efforts should be made to treat academic and vocational routes to employment equally, it concluded.