The UK government is promoting the construction industry as an industry that will significantly aid our economic recovery; however, it will require additional workers to achieve the government’s expectations.
The construction industry was very quick to adapt to the change in circumstances that the Covid-19 pandemic forced us into and continued working throughout 2020, but not without its concerns. Some of the main issues facing the industry are the lack of skilled workers and high competition for talent.
Because of Brexit and the new immigration system that was introduced, construction companies are facing more difficulties than ever when recruiting for new personnel. It is expected that we are likely to see a significant reduction in the number of EU nationals working in construction which traditionally, the industry has heavily relied on in previous years.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) identified that up until the end of 2020; more than 9% of the workforce within the construction industry were EU nationals, with that figure rising to 30% in London. Many of the EU nationals working within the industry returned home prior or during the Covid-19 pandemic to reduce living costs and to be with their families.
New immigration rules present additional barriers to workers wanting to return or live in the UK and work in the construction industry. The new rules present a new set of challenges to the sector’s recruitment process and migrant worker eligibility, making it more difficult to get construction workers from the EU into the UK.
It is projected that the new immigration rules combined with a shortage of labour will affect the ability of construction companies to deliver on time and take on new projects and it is likely that the cost of labour and recruitment will rise.
Mitigating the effects of Brexit on construction recruitment
The new points based immigration system that came into effect on the 1st of January 2021 is set to reduce the number of low skilled workers entering the UK from the EU. It is also expected that the new system will create delays for skilled workers coming to the UK in the early months of 2021 due to increased bureaucracy and barriers to entry.
By understanding the new visa criteria and immigration processes, construction companies and their recruitment partners can be prepared for this additional obstacle and continue to successfully attract, and recruit new workers as we enter 2021.
Adapting to new ways of working in a pandemic
Construction companies are adapting to a new way of working to adhere to government guidelines and protect their workers from an invisible threat. By carefully planning and re-organising their processes and how jobs are carried out, construction companies have successfully transitioned and are continuing to deliver projects, even with fewer workers on site.
Technology is also playing its part in adapting to new ways of working in the construction industry. For example, some construction companies are now using drones to carry out inspections, surveys and volume measurements, which brings a completely new skill-set into the construction industry as some companies now require workers with drone operation experience to be part of their workforce.
Filling the skills gap and lack of candidates
The ONS released statistics in 2019 that show there are nearly 400,000 skilled construction trade workers aged between 50 and 65, all of which are due to retire within the next 15 years. With the large number of skilled construction workers due to leave the industry and the struggles the industry has attracting young people, the deficit of skilled construction workers is only set to increase unless we act now.
The government has already set out initiatives to tackle this problem by providing incentives for companies hiring new apprentices, however, the scheme is due to end on the 31st of March 2021.
This suggests that it is up to construction companies and their recruitment partners to step in and do their bit, but how?
Here at Crooton, we have a very effective solution to help with this issue. Our Employer Fencing technology allows us to geographically target physical locations and send digital display adverts to people who enter our fenced areas.
Construction companies can take advantage of Employer Fencing to target academic institutions with messaging that promotes the benefits of working within the industry and for their company, as well as sending job adverts to young people who are about to start looking for jobs after completing their academic qualifications.
By using a combination of innovative and traditional recruitment methods, we can help your construction company stay ahead of the competition and attract the best talent, domestically and internationally.