Skills Crisis! Here Is The Answer!
IS it stupid to ask this question: Why is the construction industry lamenting the skills crisis when the UK has over 817,000 unemployed people aged 16-24 (official figures for March to May 2014), many of whom could undergo training and achieve apprenticeships? And that number out of work will rise this month as thousands more school leavers attempt to find jobs.
Surely every unemployed young person is not work shy, a layabout, or even a benefits scrounger, as some might suggest. Many jobless youngsters could successfully take on skilled work with training, plus having the incentive of an apprenticeship with employment virtually guaranteed.
It’s not enough for specialist contractors, including those in flooring, simply to complain that they can’t find skilled workers to employ. The answer is in their hands. This month is an ideal time to recruit and train the people needed. With A level results just out, there is a large pool of candidates well suited for jobs in construction.
Employers’ appeal to A level graduates is significantly strengthened with recent research finding that many are concerned that they may be unable to afford to pay the fees for further education, while others are deterred from going to university by the fear of a lack of suitable jobs on their graduation.
Many youngsters fresh out of school are motivated and enthusiastic, yearning to experience the working world and achieve a qualification that will boost their career prospects. The tragedy is that many of them are never given the chance; they become disillusioned, and land up on the human scrap heap.
As for so-called ‘academic’ youngsters, it doesn’t mean they won’t develop an aptitude for skilled work especially if there is the prospect of starting their own businesses.
The big bonus is an apprenticeship which may be fully funded, in contrast to them having to pay £9,000 a year for a university course, which could leave them in debt for years. So flooring contractors, what are you waiting for?
But you can’t expect people to come knocking at your door. You may have to sell the job. Construction is not seen as an attractive career option among school leavers. This is despite the many and varied roles in the sector and the fact that it contributes 7% to Britain’s GDP, employs 10% of the UK’s total working population and sustains and supports over 280,000 businesses nationwide.
The negative image is to do with problems such as the perceived lacklustre approach to sustainability, inability to tackle fair payment disputes, lack of diversity in the workforce, inefficiencies through the supply chain, etc.
These issues won’t be addressed overnight, but an important first step is to attract and train young people as the next generation of skilled workers. Doing nothing is not a option. It will only mean the ‘crisis’ becoming a real disaster.
This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.