Can Internships narrow the skills gap in construction?

Can Internships narrow the skills gap in construction?

The UK construction industry is growing, generating almost £90 billion annually and employing more than 2.93 million people. This accounts for approximately 10% of the working British population, so it is worrying that there is still a skills shortage in this industry.

One of the main issues is that many construction workers are now retiring, and to make up for this shortfall, we need an influx of new employees. The problem is, that one fifth of all vacancies within the construction industry are hard to fill because employees can’t find staff with the right qualifications or skills.

It is more than important than ever to train the youngsters of today so they can build up the experience to embark on a career in construction. This is where internships can become key.

Internships provide the intern with a period of time to train on the job, gain an insight into what day-to-day working life involves, and experience different areas across the industry.

The benefits for employers are clear: in the short-term, an extra pair of hands to help out with work and in the long-term, the potential to gain a full-time employee who can really add value to the company.

Unfortunately only 1% of employers have ever considered hiring an apprentice or an inexperienced member of staff, and for those who did, it was highly unlikely that there was a guaranteed job available at the end of the project.

Now is the time to change this. Employers need to train interns in the construction industry, to ensure they develop the essential skills required, and build a desire to continue a career in construction. 

Not only that, but changes are becoming more apparent in the construction industry that requires everyone to undergo training. Up until recently, the construction industry didn’t really “do” digital. This is now changing however, with a technological boom on the cards.

The technological aspect thought to affect us is Building Information Modelling (BIM). This will replace traditional blueprints with interactive 3D models, bringing together all project information into one place. With this considered to be more sophisticated over time, it’s likely that this will eventually transform into 5D modelling.

Because this is all new, current employers of the construction industry will need to learn how to work with this technology.  This is the perfect opportunity to train interns. After all, they will be the ones who shape the construction industry in the future.

The construction industry is competing with many different industries for interns: architecture, hospitality and healthcare to name a few. And right now, interns can find better job prospects long-term in accounting, consulting and IT. That’s something the construction industry needs to address.

Another fact we can’t deny is that Brexit will have a profound impact on the construction industry. Whilst we don’t have any solid facts, it’s predicted that a ‘soft’ Brexit could see our industry lose out on 136,000 workers, and a ‘hard’ Brexit 215,000 workers. We really need to start closing that gap.

By providing a more engaging working environment, we can pave the way to reaching new people who may have never previously considered a career in construction, including encouraging more women to join the workforce.



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