Could a Better Employer Brand Help you Close the Skills Gap?
Do you ever feel like the construction sector has been talking about skills shortages since the foundations were dug on the world’s first ever building?
OK, so that might be a slight exaggeration, but there’s certainly been years of discussion and not much improvement in the situation.
In fact, if anything, the skills gap seems to be getting worse.
Moreover, those needs are across all sections of the delivery chain, from core site skills such as brick laying, plastering and electrical installation, to site management and project management roles.
The CITB, the Government’s drive to encourage apprenticeships and employer engagement with schools and colleges are all helping to bring new talent into the sector. The problem is, the industry doesn’t just need young people to train; it needs experienced people too.
The lack of resource across all levels of skills and experience is creating risk. Without the right skills, there is a risk of quality issues, programme over runs and health & safety failures…all of which add up to inherent financial hazards.
Indeed, the managing director of Eric Wright’s Construction Division has pointed to skills shortages as a major financial hurdle this week. Looking specifically at the level of activity in Manchester, he blames skills shortages for pushing up labour costs and putting pressure on resources.
High levels of construction activity shouldn’t be bad news, but when skills shortages load delivery of those schemes with financial risk, the sunny outlook for the sector remains under a persistent dark cloud.
The question is, what can we do about it? For those contractors at the sharp end of winning business and losing the battle to employ the right mix of skills at a reasonable cost, at least part of the answer lies in nurturing your employer brand. To attract skills you have to be clear that yours is a company they should want to work for. Communicate your positive culture, your fair approach and your ethical values. Give them a positive reason to want to choose you. Then use internal communications and PR to ensure that they actively want to stay.
One day, we may stop talking about skills gaps because there’s enough talent to go around. Until that happens, perhaps there should be more talk of skills recruitment and retention.
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