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Industry Urged To Focus On Next Generation

THE head of Wates, one of the UK’s biggest construction companies, has called on contractors to work with schools to help tackle a ‘serious skills deficit’ over the next decade.
Paul Drechsler, who was chief executive of Wates construction until his retirement at the end of last year, said the construction industry was better placed than any other sector in the UK to partner with schools in deprived areas and support young people due to its large supply chain.
Speaking in an interview with Construction News, Mr Drechsler said: ‘The more construction companies get involved, the more they establish a channel into construction at school and can work with schools to excite young people about the construction industry.
‘By helping young people now, we can ensure tomorrow’s workers have all the qualities required to meet the UK’s future construction challenges,’ he said.
His remarks coincides with the launch by the Prince of Wales of a new campaign, Step Up to Serve, which aims to raise the proportion of 10 to 20-year-olds who are involved in social action from 28% to 50% by 2020.
Wates is one of eight ‘pioneer businesses’ involved in the campaign, but Mr Drechsler said he wanted to see other contractors commit to the initiative.
‘The construction industry in particular is facing a potentially serious skills deficit over the next decade. By helping young people now, we can ensure tomorrow’s workers have all the qualities required to meet the UK’s future construction challenges.’
Mr Drechsler criticised the stop-start nature of infrastructure building in the UK and said that to address the skills shortage in construction there needed to be certainty of future workload. ‘The more construction companies get involved, the more they establish a channel into construction at school to excite young people about the industry.’
The construction industry also needed to become more inclusive and diverse to be more appealing to women and ethnic minorities, he said.
Mr Drechsler is the new chairman of charity Teach First. He is also chairman of the Business in the Community education leadership team and chairman of The Prince’s Trust’s Get into Construction committee.

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.